Aaron McLean on football after the final whistle

Retired EFL footballer Aaron McLean has spoken about the struggles many players face at the dawn of their playing careers and called for more support from clubs and the PFA.

The 38-year old has played in the EFL for more than 16 years lifting the FA Trophy with Grays Athletic, before moving into a coaching role at Ebbsfleet at the brink of his career.

After playing football for their whole lives, for players to suddenly stop all that and just move on can be quite daunting and for some near impossible.

“I think the hardest part about stopping playing is you then don’t have that structure around you that you’re used to, having people around you and having that dressing room kind of feel.”

It has been a trend for some footballers to head into the media industry following their retirement, but that is an opportunity only very few will get.

The positions at top companies will usually only be offered to Premier League stars while lower-level footballers would have to be lucky or have a standout personality.

“Once you do finish playing, if you haven’t made enough money to say just be able to go and sit on a beach somewhere and live the rest of your life, then you have to look at different forms of work.”

“You’re starting at ground zero. You can’t just go and say ‘Well, I was a professional footballer for 20 years. So now give me a job and give me a good salary.”

Most of the players will come out of football with zero or little knowledge of any other trades except for kicking a ball around and not all of them will want to pursue coaching or media.

“I definitely think clubs need to do more, and the PFA need to do more. I think players need to be advised on what they are going to do once they finish their careers.”

“I’ve seen a lot of people struggle with mental health and financially because football is all they’ve ever known.”