Ben Markall

New Business Development Manager at Lloyds Bank

Ex apprentice footballer 

Former clubs: Cheltenham Town, Stoke City, Burton Albion

Tell us a little about your career to date…

My first ‘elite’ level of football was at aged 12 when I signed for Cheltenham Town. After a successful season with the club, aged just 13 I had a lot of interest from big clubs and I subsequently joined Stoke City for a £70,000 fee. I then went on to stay at the club for 4 years, before moving to Burton Albion where I signed for almost 3 seasons.

At aged 18, I decided to leave the sport and pursue a professional career. I spent some time finding my feet, whilst doing some coaching with Premier Sport, in advance starting a role with Lloyds Bank within their Retail Business Banking division.

I was promoted after a year to a Senior Customer Service Advisor, and another year on, I am now a New Business Development Manager for Lloyds.

How did you first get involved in your sport? And when did the opportunity come to start competing at an elite level?

I started playing at school and from the age of 7 I was at Aston Villa. I stayed here for a couple of years and then went on numerous trials across England, at which point I signed for Cheltenham.

To date, what’s been your greatest achievement in sport?

My greatest achievement in sport was signing for a European football club

What were the biggest challenges, and best aspects of training and competing as an elite athlete?

The best thing for certain was doing something I loved day in day out for only a couple of hours and getting paid for it!

There were a few struggles as well though. Signing full time, that line was crossed from no longer being a hobby, but now my job, and this I found hard to come to terms with. I think this transition, lead me to falling out of love for the sport and it was difficult at that age. Looking back, it probably meant not taking it as serious as I should have at that time in my career.

Having grown up and developed through elite sport, do you think the environment of elite sport has helped you in your professional and personal career now? And if so, how?

Yes certainly. Despite being a team sport, a lot of the time it is a lonely sport too. You learn to look after yourself and remember that everything you do is to better yourself. Also being told ‘no,’ and having setbacks definitely builds your confidence long term as it makes you a stronger and more resilient person. These things I have taken in to my new profession, and I think these have helped me become successful within Lloyds

What is it that you are doing now, and how are you enjoying it?

I am now a New Business Development Manager for the bank and I love it! I get to deal with multi million pound companies who are looking for business and I am building my skill and knowledge in a really competitive and high profile industry.

How difficult was it to leave football, and how did you cope through change?

It was very difficult, there is no shying away from that. I suffered with a lot of depression as I couldn’t come to terms with not playing again. I still to this day struggle at times, however I realised that there is a life outside of football and that as great as football is, it also can be a ruthless, horrible business. I didn’t with that, and it takes time to come to terms with it, and work hard to get a settled career.

What where the biggest challenges you faced when moving in to your new career?

I am an outgoing person, and I like to communicate with people. I enjoy being on my feet out and about which football gave you day in day out. I found it difficult to do a role in an office, in a closed environment. This took some time to adjust and get used to but I have learnt a lot about myself and how I deal with different surroundings since.  

Looking back, and ahead, what advice would you give to players who might face similar situations to those you have gone through?

I would advise people to be true to themselves and not to be narrow-minded. A lot of people out there within professional sport, believe that they have a god given talent however the fact is today we have lots of people who are equally as good at football but we cannot all make it. Be brave and think about building a foundation to work from, realise that football can be a very short career, and open yourself up to alternative career and opportunities early.