Gaizka Mendieta and Stiliyan Petrov are determined for others not to “make the same mistakes and suffer” in the way they did, as they outlined the aims behind a new project committed to helping footballers with the transition into life after playing.
The pair are two of five former professionals involved in Player 4 Player, which deals with areas ranging from finance and brand management to education and lifestyle.
They are joined on the seven-strong team by Emile Heskey, Michael Johnson and Gareth Farrelly, plus communications expert Pedro Pinto and entrepreneur Neil Meredith.
Speaking about the inspiration behind the initiative, ex-Barcelona midfielder Mendieta said: “We felt that there was something in football that was kind of missing.
“We know it perfectly because we have been through it, experienced it and have lived some situations that we are trying to help players avoid.
“So the outcome is to help players or to try to help players in their own career when it comes to finance, legal, education and lifestyle in any possible way to make their lives easier.”
Meet the team! Stars on the pitch, trusted advisers off it. Player 4 Player, coming soon. #Player4Player #PlayerSupport #FootballConsulting #Team #Football@EmileHeskeyUK @jonsarno @garethfarrelly1 @GaizkaMendieta6 @StanPetrov19 @TF2Neil pic.twitter.com/P1KGqoALlB
— Player 4 Player (@Player4PlayerFC) October 14, 2020
Petrov’s 18-year playing career ended in 2013, a year after being diagnosed with acute leukaemia, and he has since spent time working as a coach.
The 41-year-old admits life after football can be a daunting prospect and is hoping to offer the type of assistance that was not available in his playing days.
“The advice, guidance and the mentoring we are going to give others, is what is actual life after football,” he said.
“It’s what we went through, how difficult it is, to give the opportunity for those players not to make the same mistakes, not to suffer, not to take years after their career to work out what they actually want to do.
“We give them a plan, we give them guidance, to understand what they want to be and be prepared after the football is finished.
“I have made some wrong decisions; I have made some great decisions. I had to really go and learn things on my own.
“Having that when I was playing, it would have been invaluable for me because I would have learnt so much. I would have understood why having education, having knowledge, and being prepared for after my career could have helped me.”
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