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Chris Oldfield EXCLUSIVE (P2): Liverpool release left me unprepared & lost, but...

Now that July 1 has passed, most of the people involved in the Premier League will be looking forward to the new season; the excitement of the new fixtures, the new kits and new players.

But there is a minority in the football world who are not embracing the new after the weekend. Oh no, there are some who are certainly not filled with enthusiasm and optimism.

When I was a part of that minority, after I was released in 2009 by Liverpool, I was distraught and more importantly, unprepared and uncertain of the path that lay ahead of me.

It's very tough to describe how upset I was when I was released by my boyhood club.

When you're training as a footballer, every day you're always thinking about playing football and you're always thinking about doing enough to get your new contract. That's all you think about, you're not thinking about the next club coming to get you.

But now, it had come to that time for me.

To put it this way, out of 52 weeks of the year, you have 4 weeks off from football, other than that its training every day.

You go from two double sessions every week and then the rest of the days you're training, and then you have a game on top of that.

You go from being around 18 to 20 lads every day, every day you're in the changing room, joking around and having a laugh.

You go from your routine of being around people that you thought were your friends at the time, to being by yourself and no longer seeing or hearing from any of them.

All of sudden when your contract expires, your at home, doing nothing by yourself. You feel like you're all alone.

Being released is the epitome of an emotional rollercoaster.

I'd be upset in my bedroom, I'd be up and down, I'd be angry, I'd be happy.

You're trialling at clubs getting told no and you feel like everything you've done from the age of 11 to 19 is for nothing. I was so upset that I did feel like that I had wasted it all.

Was I depressed?

I'm not sure what that feels like. But I can't explain how upset I was.

Luckily I had my family to support me. Thankfully, I'm very close with my parents and siblings because when I got released, they were there every day to support me.

After the shock settles, you've got to look forward to your future.

You've got to trial with teams that have twenty strangers in the rooms. You're going in their as a fresh face and they've all know each other for years and they're looking at you thinking who's this guy, what's he going be like.

And then they start to pick on you and try and intimidate you. It's very tough as a 18 year old because it's such a young age.

You don't realise it at the time, but when I look back at being an 18 year old now, I was a young boy, I had no idea what was going on.

I was a completely different person. I can see why I was intimated and why I was nervous and shy, it was a scary environment to be in. But looking back now, I know there was no need to be.

I had short spells with Bangor and Chester but because I was 19 years old with no senior football experience, I got minimal game time with those clubs.

I was playing with the senior team, but when I got to the club I was the young goalkeeper, trying to a break in and it never really worked for me.

I always felt on the outskirts of it all. I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life because I felt like I was never going to play. I just wasn't there mentally at the time.

When I left Bangor, I had a trial at Aberdeen. I was 20 and I trained for 3 weeks with them.

I went to Germany with them and played against Borussia Monchengladbach and Bochum. I played really well and my agent and I thought this was my chance, I was going to get signed.

But then, on the way home from Germany, I got a call from the manager, Craig Brown, and he said that the club were going to sign David Gonzalez Giraldo from Manchester City on loan, which meant I wasn't going to be offered a contract.

I was broken.

I flew back from Aberdeen and I was just shattered. I didn't know what to do with myself. I came back and I said to my parents I'm not sure what I want to do with my life no more.

When I got released, I was very, very upset every day until I actually said to myself I'm going to pull myself out of it and move on.

And that's what I did.

I spoke to my agent, who mentioned about going to Australia. Richard Rudzki, Lou Acevski and Hume City helped bring me Down Under and paid for me to come out and they looked after me and it's probably the best decision I made for my career and my life.

My life completely changed. I met my wife, I've had two beautiful kids and I haven't looked back since.

That's the thing about being released from the professional environment. It's completely different to the real world.

In football your bred to be ruthless and not a nice person. It's a dog-eat-dog world, and now, I'm happy to be around people who actually want to be my friend and not stab me in the back.

When your at a club, your fighting for your position. It sounds horrible but it happens. If you've got to stab someone in the back, you've got to do it without blinking an eye.

If they put a contract on the table and said this is for you but you've got to throw someone else under the bus, you'll throw him under the bus.

There should be more done to help prepare full-time footballers for this dramatic change in lifestyle.

There should be advice given to players who are suddenly burdened with questions that they were never prepared for.

How can you expect a teenager to answer questions like, what am I going to do with my life now that football hasn't worked out?

It's like being in school and teachers offering you no advice, no pathways, no education on what step to take next.

Yes it's true that scholarships are undertaken at Premier League clubs, but do they take it seriously?

We certainly didn't at Liverpool. We all thought we were going to be professional footballer's.

If someone had said to me have you looked at psychology? Have you looked at being a lawyer? I would have said no, I'm playing football. That's what I wanted to do.

But as soon as it breaks down, when the bubble bursts, you look around and go maybe I should have gone to school, maybe I should have done that course.

For footballers, even as young as 15, 16: prepare yourself, take your studies seriously and give your all in your school exams.

Because you never know what might be around the corner; before you know it, your career could be over.

It could be when you're released on July 1. Or it could be in any month through an injury on the training pitch or when your walking down the street.

All you can do is prepare yourself the best you can because nobody else is going to do it for you.

Looking back now, my life was football. If anybody asked what I did with my spare time it was football. There was never nothing else. That's all I did.

Had I known what I know now, or more importantly, had I been taught what I know now, maybe the future wouldn't have looked so bleak after July 1 all those years ago.

Life is going well in Australia. This is where I've seen that there's more to life than what people think about you. There's a lot more to life than kicking a ball around.


For any footballers or interested parties who want to have a chat about my experience, or a chat about your own, I'm happy to help.

I'm available on Twitter: @ChrisOldfield91.


Read the first part of my story here.

Chris Oldfield
About the author

Chris Oldfield

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