As a semi-pro, it was working as a teaching assistant on a scheme for disadvantaged kids, that he gained the insight which has helped him to cope with the highs and lows of professional football.
"Some fans sometimes say to me 'you don't know what it's like to work,' but I do. It was part of my past," says the 35-year-old after enthusiastically participating in a training session arranged by Everton In The Community for youngsters with Down syndrome.
"I was playing for Joue-les-Tours and they created a special programme for kids who had just come out of school and didn't have a lot of experience or excellent diplomas. At the time I was doing a bit of everything; secretarial work for the club, teaching the kids...The club was linked to the town so I was doing general admin stuff too.
"It wasn't a fully professional club, we were four tiers below the top division. I was playing with guys who were 45. We had maybe two or three training sessions a week, always at night because everyone had a job. We got a little wage from the club but it was really not much at all so we all worked."