By Tate Macpherson
Last Updated: 17/10/18 2:02pm
Footballers’ union FIFPro has launched a campaign to encourage players to prepare for second careers as a way to guard against financial and mental health problems later in life.
According to FIFPro, only 13 per cent of active professionals in Europe have higher-education qualifications, compared to the European Union average for men of 53 per cent.
Co-funded by the EU’s Erasmus+ education programme, the ‘Mind the Gap’ campaign is being fronted by Juventus and Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini.
“As a footballer, at 20 years old you feel indestructible and able to do anything in football,” the 34-year-old said.
“But at 35 your career is more or less finished. You then have the rest of your life in front of you, and just being able to play football is not enough.
“Only a few players manage to find a job in football. There’s also the risk of depression, and there are many former players with financial problems because they have not thought about what they are going to do, they have not opened their minds by studying.
“You need to start thinking about life after football at the beginning of your career, not at the end.”
Chiellini, who has played 99 times for Italy and won seven Serie A titles with Juventus, has completed a bachelor’s degree in economics and a masters in business administration at Turin University.
He believes studying has actually helped “relieve some of the pressure in the world of football” and kept his “brain sharp”.
As part of the campaign, player development managers will be appointed at several national players’ associations to help prepare them for life after football.
FIFPro’s secretary general Theo van Seggelen added: “The statistics show each year professional footballers are not as prepared as other workers to enter the employment market outside football.
“With this campaign, we are encouraging players and player associations to work together to correct this.”