What clubs have you played for over the years and was there a favourite?
I played for Chelsea, Bournemouth (on loan), Leeds Utd, Stoke City, Reading, Wycombe Wanderers, St Johnstone and Oxford Utd. I enjoyed my career and had great times at each club. But I think because I came through the ranks at Chelsea, it is ‘my club’.
What was life like for you in the academy days and is it more challenging now?
The Academy was called YTS (youth training Scheme) back when I was coming through. Had a great time, made good friends – likeminded, young players trying to make it and who were also hungry for success. It wasn’t easy, but I enjoyed it. The rewards are bigger now for the young players, as is the competition to make it, so I guess it may be more challenging to break through.
What was the support like “off pitch” you received as a professional footballer?
I received support from my ‘inner circle’, which consisted of my close friends and family. They supported me from start to finish. I only had one agent throughout my playing career and he helped but my main support was my ‘inner circle’.
Do you think there is even more pressure nowadays for footballers to “deliver”?
No, the demand and pressure to deliver has always been the same at the top level. But there is more pressure today for professional footballers to act a certain way and live a certain life – but that is down to social media.
Whose responsibility should it be to protect footballers during and after their career?
There is a responsibility on the player to try and find the best people to look after you, your wants and needs. And most players do that. They have a personal fitness coach, a chef, a masseuse, an accountant etc. The problem is that, sometimes, these people let the player down during or after the players career and look to protect their own interests.
When you were at the height of your career – did you think about what you would do when you stopped playing?
No. When I was at the height of my football career, I was just thinking about being the best player I could be.
You have a real love of coaching and speaking – can you tell us more about your business?
I have a real passion for helping people to become the best version of themselves, and coaching and speaking is the vehicle from which I do that. I am a qualified Executive Coach and specialise in Elite Performance. I have my own coaching company called Made Leaders. I coach individuals, teams, big businesses, small businesses, men or women. I help those that want to help themselves.
What would help you get much further, much faster now?
I am a strong believer in trusting the process, and right now where I am is where I am meant to be! Along this journey I am meeting the right people at the right time. My reputation is growing, and more people are seeing my work, so I know that the process is working. Further and faster might not be better. As long as I see progress in the right direction, I am happy.
What are the wrong assumptions people make about yourself and other professional footballers?
That everything I have was given to me easily and everything I did was easy! Nothing was easy or handed to me. I had to fight for everything, then fight to keep, then fight some more… so some people just see the end product and think it is easy and never see the journey to get there.
What is your 1, 5, and 10 year plan?
In 5 years time, my aim is to be working with the best individuals in their own chosen industry or profession and helping them to become the best of the best. I want Made Leaders to be the company that people go to improve their mindset, their performance and/or just themselves. To be happy in life in myself and to be healthy too. 10 years is too far away…haha!
You’ve been introduced to Lighthouse by Amit Amin – how would you describe his mindset and his energy?
Amit is driven and determined, which I like. Behind the ball of energy (and he is a ball of energy!!) is a genuine and authentic guy that just wants to help. I would describe him as one of life’s ‘good guys’.
How important is having a solid network and, in an ideal world, what types of people would you like to meet now?
A solid network is key, and on my post football journey I have realised its importance. But it isn’t as easy as it sounds, because a lot of people want association and actually offer no value. So I have to like the person, share the same values and then we can see if there is a way we can work together. But usually if there is a connection and you share values, interests and passions, down the line that person will network for you in a room even if you aren’t there, and you will do the same. That’s how you grow.
You’ve had lunch with and got to know Andrew Powell very well – how would you describe his vision and attitude?
Andrew is a genuine and humble guy, and his vision is clear and concise, which I liked. I could close my eyes and picture his vision, I could see how it would work and I have seen first hand the type of victims or people that would have benefitted from his vision. His attitude is determined and focused – all good qualities that I resonate with.
You’ve looked into The Lighthouse Group – what do you think?
They seem like a good company and I like what they are doing.
How important is protecting your mental health for you and fellow footballers?
It is important to look after your mental health regardless of the profession. It is increasingly becoming harder to protect yourself if you’re in the public eye because social media and society expect perfection, and anyone trying to be perfect is destined to fail. That is why so many young people in the public eye are struggling with mental illness… it’s the pressure!
Do you believe that footballers get paid what they deserve and do they always invest it wisely enough?
Who really gets paid what they deserve! The thing is that nobody questions an actor getting paid £40million for a 2 hour movie – but a footballer gets questioned every time. A doctor who saves a life should be paid so much more than they do but society deems it not to be the case. Like a lot of people, professional footballers need to speak to an expert when it comes to financial advice. They usually have a financial advisor to help them with investments, and they trust this person has their best interest at heart and they follow their expert advice. But too many times recently the trust is not warranted. What more can you do than seek expert advice!!
Would you be open to helping Lighthouse in the future with academy and training work?
I would like to be a part of it and help Lighthouse. Andrew and I have had a conversation around this and how best we can really use my knowledge and experience to have the biggest impact and help.
Many young people in sport dream of getting onto the property ladder – if there was a way of making this realistic would you like to find out more?
The property ladder? I think many young people dream of getting on the property ladder because they are told this is best way to earn money. Many people in sport want to invest their earnings and for it to grow into a huge pile for when they retire, they want no hassle and no stress…. If that was made realistic, I would want to find out more definitely.
What are the key challenges professional footballers experience once their careers come to an end?
The biggest challenge is finding themselves! Who are they, now they are not a footballer. There is no buzz on a match day, no crowds cheering, no competition, no nothing. So they need to find their purpose, their why! This sometimes happens in the final few years of playing; they start working out what’s next.
Can you share how people can see more about your world?
You can see Made Leaders on www.madeleaders.co.uk or me on Instagram @michaelduberry or me on LinkedIn @Michael Duberry