A couple of years ago, on behalf of the charity, Dame Kelly Holmes Trust, who do amazing work with sports people, I went to Wigan Athletic Football Club to speak to young footballers aged between sixteen and eighteen years old who were not getting their contracts renewed at the end of the season.
The Trust organised a great day where we were joined by other young footballers from Bolton Wanderers who were in the same situation.
It was a very structured event and there were a couple of actors who put in a running comedy routine.
I was speaking about ‘How to Whizz a Job Interview’ and went along early just to get the flavour of the event.
There were about sixty guys there and I really felt for them as they were young kids who had been kicking a ball since they could walk and their hopes of being the next Ronaldo or Messi were down the pan.
When I stood up to speak I told them that they were all my heroes because when I was a kid I too wanted to be a great footballer, who didn’t? However, at school I never got selected to play, I was always number twenty-three in the selection.
So I chose to play Rugby as mathematically I had more chance of selection and this worked to I played prop forward and had the crap kicked out of me every Wednesday afternoon when we had sports.
They were also my heroes because if I screwed up in my talk only I would know, if they make a mistake playing professional football 5000 or 10,000 or 15,000 people were there to see it and that was not easy to live with.
Last night I was reading a book by the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson, former manager of Manchester United and he told how he never put a player down.
He always encouraged the players and the famous and most meaningful two words that he used were ‘well done’
In management you sometimes want to scream at a colleague who has messed up but you have to find a way to turn the negative around and take a leaf out of Fergies book and say ‘well done’ but………’