Soccerex Spotlight: Stiliyan Petrov, Co-Founder, Player4Player

Soccerex Spotlight: Stiliyan Petrov, Co-Founder, Player4Player
Player 4 Player, founded by a group of former professional footballers (Stiliyan Petrov, Emile Heskey, Gaizka Mendieta, Michael Johnson and Gareth Farrelly), launched in October 2020 with the mission to support current and former professional footballers in their careers on and off the pitch. We had the pleasure of hearing from Aston Villa and Celtic legend, Stiliyan Petrov about this incredible venture.

  1. Could you please start by explaining what Player 4 Player is, and the services the organisation offers?

P4P is a new player-led football collective that aims to support the careers of current and former players. 

P4P is led by an elite group of former players with unrivalled expertise and extensive experience who wish to support those who are starting their careers or are aiming to transition into a new one.

We want to add value to the football industry. We feel that there are too many people taking from it, we want to give back. P4P will be offering its services to all professional footballers, whether they are still playing, looking to plan their transition out of football or have recently retired from the game.

P4P is looking to complement existing organisations and provide players with a further source of support. 

Set up by players, for players – we will use our unrivalled expertise and extensive experience to create much-needed development opportunities and career support for players, built on trust, integrity and industry insight.

Over the course of their career, players are forced to make many decisions, often at a young age and without the necessary support system in place. We will offer players valuable guidance and advice from an independent source they can trust.

  1. How did the idea come about, and how did this group of elite former players come together?

The idea was always there. We just did not have the courage, knowledge and the confidence to make the step forward. We always waited for someone else to do it for us. The way the idea developed was really fascinating. We all met on a educational course called UEFA MIP Masters for International Players.

We shared our experiences and journeys, we talked about our highs and lows, we discussed the problems and our challenges at every stage throughout our career, and we talked with current and former players about the challenges and issues regarding the preparation for life after football.

We established the idea of creating, developing and communicating with the football industry for a better future.

  1. Once the idea was formed, how did you go about getting this organisation up and running?

Step by step. We started by finding and deciding what needs to happen in order to move towards a more sustainable future for players. We mapped out each stage of a player’s career and analysed the most important issues. 

  1. How important is it that players begin to plan their career when still playing?

Eventually, every football player will transition to new interests and career opportunities. Starting to realise that earlier gives them a better and more sustainable future. Players, who have pursued their football careers with unwavering dedication for most of their lives, may find the transition challenging. We as a company allow them to take a step back, find some of those transferable skills, and then apply those same things that have made them great in football to make them great in life after football.

  1. What sort of jobs/career paths do you see as being natural transitions for footballers after their playing careers, and what transferrable skills can be taken in a career in football that can be useful when transitioning to a new role?

That’s a very interesting and relevant question. As players our brain works the same way, and many of us decide to dedicate our second career either as coaches or tv pundits. But many don’t realise those two areas are very congested. Most players wont have the confidence, knowledge and educational skills to advance into different areas in sport. 

Our leadership, commitment, desire, loyalty, communication, handling pressure, teamwork and many more valuable skills could be transferred in the administration and the business side of sport with much smoother and more focused transition.

  1. Have you begun to work with many current/former players?

 The attention and the amount of requests have been very overwhelming since day one. We are already working with a few current and former players. We are really satisfied with how PLAYER4PLAYER is evolving so far.

  1. How do your combined personal experiences of the game at the top level allow you to best provide support to current and other former players where necessary?

We make sure the players understand the process at different stages in their career.

We create a realistic picture about the future for them and their family. We explain what the opportunities are, and how to make those opportunities become a reality in their second career.

We share a clear understanding about the challenges of making the transition. We can help them be prepared to transfer their sporting skills with much more confidence into the business world of sport.

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