My journey so far...
Finance Broker - Radar Finance & Leasing Ltd
Nuneaton Town FC, previous clubs: Nottingham Forest, Derby County, Lincoln City, Telford, Ilkeston Town. Ex England Under 17's, 18's 19's
Tell us a little about your career so far James...
From a young age, even playing with mates, I always stood out as a player. I was in academy set ups from a really young age. Starting off at Derby County as a 9 year old, I spent five years at the club, before signing for rivals Nottingham Forest! It was at Forest where my career really started to build momentum. I developed quickly, and made my first team debut as a teenager. My time though was cut short and after five successful seasons I moved to Lincoln City where I spent one season. I then moved on to Telford before joining Ilkeston Town for three seasons, and now I am currently at Nuneaton Town who I signed for this season.
How did you first get involved in the sport? And when did the opportunity come to join a professional club?
My biggest influence came from my parents and family, particularly my father, who was a professional footballer himself. He had successful spells namely at Derby County and Newport County. He had a real impact on my development, especially when I signed my first professional contract with Nottingham Forest.
What was it like, to train and play as a professional athlete, with and against some of the country's brightest talents?
Amazing! It really was! You couldn’t beat the feeling of competing and doing what you love day in day out. To challenge yourself against the best, and experience things with great lads around you, it was amazing.
To date, what’s been your biggest sporting achievement?
There are lots of things I have achieved within football that I am proud of, but there are two moments that really stand out for me.
1. Playing for England in a Youth World Cup in South Korea. What a feeling.
2. Making my first team debut for Nottingham Forest at the age of 18. Something that I had worked so hard for and when that moment came, it was an unbelievable feeling. Stepping onto a pitch full of senior pro’s in front of more than 20,000 home fans was a dream come true.
Amazing achievements looking back. Can you explain briefly what it was like to represent your country?
Really is hard to put in to words. I couldn’t believe it at the time. Initially at under 17’s level, scouts came to watch me play for my club, and I went on a trial period a long with a number of other players across the country. And from that point, I was fortunate enough to represent England for 3 seasons. Looking back, it was a great achievement in my career.
The transition from elite sport to the professional world must have been difficult? Looking back, what were the main challenges?
It was difficult to say the least! Playing football day in day out became the norm for me, and I loved it. Now, I lead a very different lifestyle. I work full time in a relatively ‘normal’ job. You don’t realise how good it is to do what you love every day. Not that you take it for granted, but it’s almost hard to imagine doing something else. But change can come so quickly and you just have to take it in your stride and deal with it as it comes!
Now as a Finance Broker for Radar Finance and Leasing, what do
they do and how did you get involved?
I am now a Finance Broker for a financial service firm in Derby. Essentially my role is sales based. We work with our clients to arrange and manage their finances; for example, when businesses buy their equipment (cars, machinery etc) we manage the financial process.
Is there anything you think your time growing up within elite sport has given you that you are now applying in your current role?
Confidence is a massive thing. To be successful growing up in sport, you need to be confident. You need to be able to believe in yourself and your ability and this is no different to everyday life. I have taken this confidence into my new career, I am very confident in all types of situations, and I am just as comfortable dealing with my peers, my team mates and people I do not know.
And finally, what advice would you give to professional athletes who are making the transition away from sport?
I can only talk from experience.
Be confident and professional. Looking to make a new lifestyle and way of living day to day is difficult! But if you apply the same level of confidence, professionalism and resilience to that in professional football, you will have new success stories. Also, what’s important is to understand what you want to do! Pursue something that you would like to do, something you enjoy or can challenge you, rather than looking for ‘just another job.’