UDA Soccer Academy students were treated to an up close and personal talk from former Premier League star Jonathan Walters at our Chester campus.
Former Premier League Start Jon Walters, B
The recently retired Burnley and Republic of Ireland frontman shared his experiences from a 20-year career that took in 12 clubs across all four professional leagues in England.
Jon, 35, was forced to hang up his boots in February following a serious Achilles injury and spoke to students about making that agonising decision and his plans for the future.
“For most, football doesn’t really prepare you for retirement. You have to prepare yourself for it,” revealed Jon, who scored over 100 career goals in more than 500 appearances for club and country.
“There is help available but most footballers seem to think it’s going to go on forever. That’s why you see so many getting into trouble financially as they continue to live a certain way.”
“I could have played on a lot longer if it wasn’t for the injury. But I started thinking about my future in my mid-20’s. You become more mature and start to think ‘where do I need to be, what do I need to do before I finish? Do I need to pay off my mortgage, have no debts, have income coming in, invest in property?’ Perhaps I’m quite rare in that sense.”
Best known for his eight years terrorising Premier League defenders with Stoke City, Jon shared fascinating insight on topics including dealing with unscrupulous football agents, flaws with the modern day academy system, and working with different managers including an infamous falling out with Roy Keane during his time under the Manchester United legend at Ipswich Town.
UDA UK Academy Director Joel Roberts arranged the talk and was delighted students had a first hand opportunity to meet and listen to a player of Jon’s standing and experience.
Said Joel: “We are very grateful for Jon giving up his time to talk to UDA Soccer. He is an ideal role-model for our student-athletes given his career has demonstrated the difficulties players need to overcome to reach their best on the field.
“Jon personifies the potential rewards for perseverance and hard-work. His talk was very relevant to students, not just in terms of having the ability to play at such a high level, but also highlighting the various off-field opportunities open to students such as media, coaching and business, which gives them further motivation in their academic studies.”
The talk also saw UDA Soccer UK join forces with the University of Chester’s BA Sports Journalism programme whose programme leader and sports journalist David Randles interviewed Jon before students also put questions to him.
Said David: “It was great to link up with UDA Soccer UK again, bringing our students together to listen to such fantastic expert insight and advice from a professional player who has been there, seen and done it at the top level of the game.
“Jon was brilliant in terms of his openness and what he was willing to share. There was plenty to take away for Sports Journalism students and the UDA students too.
“Thanks to Joel for arranging Jon’s visit and inviting Sports Journalism to attend. I look forward to us working together again in the future.”