Moroccan playmaker Hassan Kachloul joined Southampton in 1998 having played for Nimes, Metz and St Etienne in France's Ligue 1, and became a crowd favourite before spells with Aston Villa, Wolves, and Livingstone, where he still enjoys cult status. After retiring in 2005, Kachloul swapped boots and balls for bricks and mortar...
"When people think of footballers and property in this country they think of distastefully decorated mansions or Robbie Fowler, who has invested in a number of properties. He's very successful and proud, I bet, of what he's done away from the penalty box. After retiring, that's what I got involved with and I'm also doing OK.
The key for me is doing something I enjoy. I loved playing football and if I do something I don't really like, I'm in trouble! Property gives me a lot of pleasure, so for now I'll give it my all. My hard work has so far paid dividends. I have around 13 places – mostly in France, and some in England and Morocco. I've bought properties in places I know and in which I played the game.
I was in France for seven years, England for six, and Livingstone for just a few months, but what a few months! They were bottom when I joined in March 2005 but we went on a great run and stayed up on the last day of the season. They love me up there and the feeling is mutual. Scotland is wicked!
When you're a young footballer, you get the older guys telling you to enjoy the game while you can, because it goes very quickly – all of that. The problem is, it goes in one ear and comes out the other. You think you'll be a footballer all your life and when the end comes it's really hard. It had been my life since I was six or seven: you're living your dream, then suddenly you have to get a normal job. That is very difficult and can be very depressing.
Nothing matched the buzz of playing but my dad's been a builder all his life and I guess I'm going back to my roots. When I was a player I always liked looking at interior design and architecture, so I got involved in a couple of properties. That helped with the transition when I quit. I recommend that a player at least starts to think about his future. It may come earlier than you think, so to have something on the side is a good idea.
As I moved clubs quite a bit, I was always in new homes. I took great pleasure in designing them and decorating them. I love making a new place look great. It started in France, where there's some beautiful architecture.
I was very lucky to earn good money, but it's much nicer to spend it on a lovely house rather than having it sit in the bank. You can see and enjoy your achievements and I love that. I buy property to rent out, but mainly I develop them and sell them on – hopefully for a profit!
I have many influences, but obviously some of my properties have a slight Moroccan influence. It can be fashionable, but I'd only advise one room, a peaceful place to retreat after a hard day – any more can be too much, a little colourful for English tastes maybe. It's nice to design a house that reflects the owner's life experiences. If you've travelled, take things from those trips and make them your own.
I'm still a novice but I'm very passionate, do a lot of research, and look everywhere for opportunities. France is a brilliant place to buy: great value for money and beautiful – I recommend you look there. England is good, too, especially for a developer. People's priority here is to own a home as soon as they have a job and that makes for an interesting market.
For now I'm very happy building a portfolio but who knows what the future holds? Football was my life and it's difficult to find an equivalent that creates the same level of excitement. I can see myself coming back one day – that's why I'm doing my coaching badges. If the opportunity came up I'd love to coach in England. But life doesn't have to be about just one vocation – why not have a few? And while property development isn't quite the same as playing a one-two with Matt le Tissier, I love it!"
Interview: Leo Moynihan. From the March 2007 issue of FourFourTwo.