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Playon Pro: The 'Whatsapp' for retired footballers looking for a new direction

When the bright lights, big stadiums and adoring fans of the English Premier League have come and gone, it can be a difficult adjustment period for retired footballers. 

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It is with that knowledge that a group came together to form Playon and PlayonPRO to give ex-players a network to help them adjust to the next phase of their lives.

It involves an app that can keep them connected to fellow ex-professionals if they so choose, while there are also tournaments that bring them together and give them another chance to pull the boots on.

One of the elements that makes people reluctant to stop their sporting careers is you lose touch with your colleagues ... this is a tool to bring those people together

- Trevor Steven

Trevor Steven, a former England winger and two-time league title winner with Everton, is a member of the Playon board and its commercial director.

He joined FourFourTwo for a chat to explain what it is all about.

“Playon as a name will tell you what we’re trying to do,” Steven began.

“It originated with retired football players, but we’re moving into general sports as well, which is more for our app. “It’s like a Whatsapp for sports people. That’s PlayonPRO.

“Playon itself is about creating a community of ex-footballers and giving them the opportunity to get together in tournaments and games that we are looking to organise around the world.

“One of the elements that makes people reluctant to stop their sporting careers is you lose touch with your colleagues and teammates that you have spent years with. People in your dressing room, but also people you’ve competed against.

“This is a tool to bring all of those people together, then we see what we can do with that.”

What we all have in connection is a sporting background and the elite sporting mentality. That in itself is a community

There is often a misconception that due to the astronomical fees some footballers earn at the top end of the profession, the vast majority must end their careers more or less set for life.

That’s clearly not the case, with any number of factors – injuries, illness, loss of form, coaching changes – meaning players can often end their careers with only modest resources and unsure where to turn to next.

Areas like education are often lacking in footballers, who typically turn professional still in their teens.

What they do share, according to Steven, is the mindset required to make it at the top level.

“We’re collecting a large stable of sports people through the app,” he said. “They’re not necessarily all high net worth people. There will be some at that end and a variety of others who don’t have very much.

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“But what we all have in connection is a sporting background and the elite sporting mentality. That in itself is a community.

“Everybody wants to play sport, but only a select few get to do it professionally and it tends to be more about mentality than talent.

“We’re bringing all of those people back together and it’s been very, very popular. Daily we’re bringing on about half-a-dozen people and boarding them onto the app.

“That’s on one side and on the other side we’re organising tournaments and games. We’re looking into Thailand and Vietnam at the moment and already booked into the Hong Kong tournament again.”

[NEXT: Giving players somewhere to turn in retirement]