FABRICE Muamba feels it is vital that footballers have a plan outside of football in case they do not make it as a professional.
Speaking at the launch of a new scheme set up to make young players marketable for jobs should they not make a career in the game, Muamba – who retired in August, 2012, after suffering a heart attack during an FA Cup match at White Hart Lane in March while he was playing for Bolton – stressed the importance of a good education.
He said: “It gets harder every year for players to get into the first team, so it is important that they get educated because anything can happen once you cross the white line.
“I think it is important that from an early age you emphasise the importance of having an education and having a plan B because not everybody is going to be a footballer.”
The initiative – which has been set up by Brighton & Hove Albion in conjunction with Brightonandhovejobs.com – will see academy players undergo workshops and hear from guest speakers on preparing for life after football throughout the season.
It is unique to the UK and will ensure that the youngsters at the Albion are given the best advice should a career in football not come to fruition.
With the amount of money that is now pumped into the beautiful game, Muamba also feels that it is even tougher now to break into the first team at a professional club than it was back during his own playing days.
He said: “Nowadays, it is even harder for an English player to get into the first team because when I was playing it was difficult but now managers have got friends who live in Spain, his friend has contacts in Barcelona and so on. They (the clubs) can get any player.
“For the young guys, we just have to put it to them that you have to work hard (to try and make the first team) but at the same time have in your mind that plan B in case plan A doesn’t work.”
Gary Peters – who was released from the Albion at the age of 16 – is the founder of brightonandhovejobs.com and he added: “It’s very competitive out there and it is really hard, even for ex-footballers, no matter how far they have got in their career, to find work.
“The main aim from this is to demonstrate that the skills required to be a footballer are completely transferable to the workplace.”
Muamba now has a role with the PFA which allowed him to get involved with the scheme, but he is also pursuing other avenues in sport.
He has gone back to university to undertake a sports journalism course at the University of Staffordshire as he bids to make another career in football.
“I’ll be one of you guys soon!” he joked.
“It’s an enjoyable course as you’ve got to learn things and see why journalists are the way they are.
I’m just enjoying the opportunity to learn a second trade in the game.
“Something did happen to me and I’ve got my plan B now so I am going to use it and enjoy life.”