- Written by Catherine Rees
Starting his professional footballing journey at Wycome Wanderers, Jamie Turley has had an incredible career and it isn't over yet. Being sidelined by injury meant Jamie explored what his life might look like when his footballing career is over. By using his network, Jamie began to build his experiences to ensure he was employable after football. Jamie remains passionate about developing himself on and off the pitch.
Jamie Turley, 30, is a professional footballer and defender at Leyton Orient Football Club. From a very early age, Jamie had his sights firmly set on his footballing career, signing to Reading Football Club at just age 8 - even sacrificing his education to take a day off school each week to train.
Throughout his career, he has played for teams such as Wycombe Wanderers and Notts County. He has also been selected seven times for the England squad – captaining the England C team and winning player of the year in 2017.
Sport has been a huge part of Jamie’s life and identity but three years ago whilst on loan to Boreham Wood from Newport County, he suffered an injury on the pitch which made him stop and think about life after his football career.
“It was the semi-final of the National League play-off against AFC Fylde. I’d scored and shortly after I received an elbow to the face which broke my jaw. I continued playing but had to have surgery - so I missed the final at Wembley. My contract with Newport County was coming to an end, the phone wasn’t ringing from the clubs I wanted, so it was that moment where I realised that I needed to prepare for life after being a professional football player.
“After several conversations with my wife, we decided I would explore the option of going part-time with my football and doing a course to help me build my next career – after all, I still have a mortgage to pay. I got accepted on a course at University Campus of Football Business (UCFB) but before I started I was approached by Notts County so I took a contract there. My heart is still very much in football, but I’ve started looking to the future and thinking about my backup plan. A year later, I signed for Leyton Orient which is where I am now.
“As a footballer, you have quite a lot of spare time compared to other athletes – even more so during lockdown. I am still trying to use time wisely and work out what I want to do when it ends. That’s why I got in touch with former Leon Lloyd, from Switch the Play. Leon helped me realise that there is life after sport but I need to be preparing for it now to make sure the transition goes as smoothly as possible – after all, football has been my life for so many years.”
Switch the Play introduced Jamie to Oil Brokerage, a partner of the charity, for him to get an understanding of life as a broker.
“At one point, I was seriously considering going into stockbroking and even shadowed a broker for the day. I got a buzz from the team environment there and was keen to learn more about it. I attended a great masterclass through Switch the Play, run by Shaun Sandiford who is part of St James’ Place Wealth Management.
“I also recently got to the third round of interviews for a financial planning course with St James’ Place – which was my first ever interview! It felt great, I felt wanted, but as I’m still in contract with Leyton Orient, the timing just wasn’t right. I wasn’t ready to let go of what I love but it was great to see that I could do something different if I wanted to. Maybe in 4-5 years I will explore financial services further but in the meantime, I’m doing a lot of networking, exploring my options and building my knowledge.
“Exploring my options has certainly helped my confidence and made me realise that the skills I gained through sport are highly desirable by businesses. As sportspeople, we’re self-motivated, willing to make sacrifices, self-disciplined, team players, and hard working. The fact that you’ve managed to stay in the game professionally for all those years is more than just your skills on the pitch. Switch the Play helped me realise I do have transferrable skills and there are businesses out there that are looking for that. I don’t necessarily have to learn all new skills – just realise the strengths I already have.
“It took me to the age of 27 to accept that I wouldn’t be a professional footballer forever – my head was firmly in the sand like a lot of the younger players today. My advice to any sportsman or woman though would be to use the extra time you have to prepare for the future, don’t wait until your career ends. Instead of playing your consoles five nights a week, just do three. Push yourself out of your comfort zone and use your time wisely.
“When I compare myself to how I was even this time last year, I am so much more confident. I manage my time better, I’m a better person and see myself as so much more than just a commodity. Play every game as if it’s your last game, because one day it will be.”
Jamie Turley is still playing fulltime, professional football at Leyton Orient Football Club.
Last updated 11/09/2020