Moving On

Box with Moving day written on it
‘Signing for a new club is a nerve-racking experience, especially if you happen to be a big money signing. I knew I was a good player but the change was simply too much to take all in one go, not least for my wife and, perhaps inevitably, I ended up parting ways with the club on less than amicable terms while my wife and I attempted to make sense of the wreckage that we had once called our marriage.’

The Secret Footballer

It’s emotional moving.  Whether your future is bright and promising or you are forced to make a change because of diminished circumstances, the decision to move affects your life and that of the ones you love.  This is why you have to be sure you’re doing the right thing.

With the transfer window firmly shut and Jim White packed away in his hibernation box until January like the Blue Peter tortoise, this autumn is a period of settling into new clubs, new cities and in some cases new countries for hundreds of footballers across the globe.

It’s a subject close to my heart having moved out of the city I was born and raised in for the first time in my life.  In the transfer window I accepted a new job in London and moved to play at a national level.  It was a soul searching decision to make to uproot my entire life to a place where I didn’t know anyone and wasn’t sure whether I would like the job.

And I only had to make this decision once.  Imagine you’re a footballer who on average moves clubs five or six times in a career.  More if you’re labelled a ‘veteran journeyman’.

My new work colleagues spotted Mesut Özil wandering around Hampstead looking a little lost and a lonely on Thursday night.  I’m sure he has an entourage of people somewhere and he was just attempting to find his feet around the rambling streets of London but their description of him looking ‘lost’ touches a little nerve in me.

Lost is a good word if you don’t have a network of people around you.  As I write this I realise it’s Sunday and I haven’t spoken to a soul today.  Not even open my mouth to speak aloud.

It is lonely.  Not in a bad, crying and rocking in a corner kind of way.  I spent time alone when I lived in Sheffield.  The difference here is that you know within 30 minutes you can drive to family or friends and have a cup of tea.

For a footballer there is a network of people surrounding the club.  It’s highly likely that your agent is on call if the nights of watching Breaking Bad box sets gets too much but it isn’t the same as having your loved ones close by.  For Özil his search for companionship has led to accusations from Real Madrid President Florentino Perez who took exception to him flying around the world after a former Miss Venezuela.

I imagine a big move is harder on a footballer’s family especially a partner and children.  When I think about Gareth Bale’s partner and their young daughter out in Madrid I wonder how much choice she had in the move.  The money and status I’m sure acts as a security blanket around her but it’s not quite the same as having the baby’s grandparents nearby or her friends to talk face-to-face with.

It sounds like I’m unhappy and I’m really not.  In fact it’s probably the best and one the bravest decisions I have I ever made but you’re reading this Mesut I’m only around the corner and have got a lovely joint in the oven. No air fare required.

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