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 Hardwired… To Self-Destruct
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12.11.2018 07:01
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In the summer of 2016, 844 professional footballers in England found themselves out of contract. Trevor Siemian Jersey . Just 154 signed new deals, but for the majority of the 690 who were released, it was the start of a long and stressful summer. There are exceptions, like Hal Robson-Kanu, who took a gamble when deciding to sit out his contract at Reading.After a season which saw Robson-Kanu start fewer than half of his sides games in an underwhelming Championship campaign, he held his nerve to focus on representing Wales at Euro 2016. A starring role, including a stunning goal against Belgium in the last eight, led to offers from far and wide before he eventually agreed a move to West Brom on Deadline Day. Get a sneak peak of Sky Sports Originals documentary Out of Contract. Watch On Demand and from 6.30pm on Sunday. But that is a rarity. Whatever level of football youre playing at, the reality for an out-of-contract player is far removed from the glitz and glamour that most would associate with life as a professional footballer.In the lower divisions, players are lucky to negotiate any more than a two-year deal. A high turnover of managers means an inevitably high turnover of players too. Laying down roots is nigh on impossible for most players and its often even tougher for their partners, constantly taken away from their family and friends with their own careers to consider too. Marvin Sordell (right) says there are times when you wake up and youre just not enjoying it as much Former Watford striker Marvin Sordell spent three years living away from his girlfriend after joining Bolton, then of the Premier League, in 2012. She finally moved to Manchester from London last year as Sordell began the season with Championship side Burnley. Within weeks of the season kicking off, the 25-year-old was released, resulting in a move to Colchester leaving his partner in the north having started a new job while he headed south.Having been let go by Colchester at the end of last season, Sordell admits his next move will be the most crucial of his career having gone from playing in the Premier League and representing Team GB at the 2012 Olympics to suffering relegation from League One in just four years.Speaking to us in June, Sordell said: There are times when you wake up and youre just not enjoying it as much. You can go from very very low to very very high, back to very very low in such a short space of time. Ive moved so many times its hard to settle into somewhere and get to know your team mates and the way youre playing. Itd be nice to find a home and settle into football really. A move to Coventry City materialised later in the summer and although his team have made a bad start to the Sky Bet League One season, recent form suggests Sordell is already benefiting from being reunited with his now fiancee, who has transferred jobs yet again from Manchester to Birmingham to join him. In that respect, Sordell is one of the more fortunate out-of-contract players. More than 200 still found themselves without a club when the transfer window closed at the end of August.One of those players, former Huddersfield Town and Scunthorpe midfielder Michael Collins, can relate to Sordells comments on highs and lows. He began last season at Oxford United, out of the first team picture he joined their League Two rivals York City on loan only for his manager to leave just a few weeks later. Michael Collins (left) believes he took himself off the radar in England while playing in India Oxford allowed him to terminate his contract in January to join League One side Oldham - just 25 miles from his Halifax home. But on the morning the deal was due to be done, he returned from the gym to discover their manager David Dunn had been sacked and the move was off. Having left Oxford to move back closer to his family, an exciting opportunity arose. The only snag - it was more than 5,000 miles away from home in India.It was back to the drawing board, then I took a phone call from Ashley Westwood [manager of Bengaluru FC] and decided it was a bit of fate. Having spoken to my girlfriend she understood it would be very difficult but said You may never get this opportunity to do something like this again in your career and I jumped at it. Bradley Pritchard opens up about life as a professional footballer when you are out of contract The 30-year-old would spend the next five months with the Bangalore-based side, a long time to part from your fiancee and 18-month-old daughter. We began our documentary filming with Michael in April and witnessed the team win the I-League title in front of a huge partisan crowd.The benefits of such a move were clear and his manager Westwood, who played for 13 English clubs in a nomadic career, could see a unique selling point: Its a saturated market in England, youre never stable. Unfortunately thats the way football is in England these days. Theres always somebody younger and cheaper. You can earn more here [in India] than in League Two, you can earn more than most League One clubs, the cost of living is very small. The club takes care of everything from accommodation to travel to meals, so all of a sudden they can go home with some money in the bank. Out-of-contract players after 2015/16 season - were they retained? Given free transfer Monthly contract offered Other offer made Premier League 128 0 0 Championship 225 5 9 League One 184 5 44 League Two 153 15 76 Totals 690 25 129 Collins says the move to India is up there with his best achievements as a footballer, but he was back to square one when returning to his family this summer and his luck was out once again: At the worst possible time Ive had the worst bit of luck with my career. I came back from India and trained with Blackpool. After I was there for a couple of days I started noticing a pain in my foot. I put it down to the hard grounds in pre-season and youre hoping its nothing major. It got worse and worse and at the end of the week I literally couldnt run.At that stage in July, Collins was facing up to the possibility that his life as a professional footballer could be over: Its been the hardest part of my career without doubt. Because I wasnt associated to a club I didnt have a physio and when youre at a club youd be sent for a scan or somebody would be there to give an assessment on what youre dealing with. Because I had nobody like that I spoke to the PFA (Professional Footballers Association), theyve helped me through my treatment, sent me for a scan and got to the bottom of the issue.Thankfully the injury wasnt as bad as first feared and with the help of his cousin - Huddersfield Giants rugby league player Scott Grix, hes been using his familys gym facilities to recover. Now fully fit, Collins is hoping to find a club soon but despite his success abroad, where he played virtually every minute of every league game, its not necessarily had a positive impact back home. Emmanuel Sonupe signing for Northampton in the summer I thoroughly enjoyed going out to India but the reality is, I did take myself off the radar in England. So when I did come back in the summer there were a lot of questions of Wheres he been? Whats he been doing?. I want to play football and play as long as I can, Ill assess all options but the main thing is I want to get back playing football as soon as I can.After 12 years as a professional, Collins career has already lasted longer than many. The PFA estimates the average footballers career will last for just eight years, which leaves a long time to pursue other avenues. Younger players are particularly vulnerable; 75 per cent of players entering the industry at the age of 16 will have exited by the time they reach 21, according to the PFA.Emmanuel Sonupe, 20, joined Tottenham at the age of nine and spent much of last season training with the first team squad, but was released without making a senior appearance in May.The England youth international admitted it was a scary prospect: Ive got friends that fell out of football and cant get another club. You do have these doubts in your mind that this might happen to me. Its hard because when youve been there for so long you dont think itll happen.When we started following Sonupe, he was on trial at Millwall having already spent time training with QPR and Leicester. Despite his impressive footballing education, clubs were reluctant to offer him a contract given his lack of first team experience, just a four-game spell on loan at St Mirren in 2015. Further trials at Charlton and Birmingham followed, before finally being offered a one-year contract by League One newcomers Northampton Town, his sixth trial of the summer. Odemwingie wants to represent Nigeria at the 2018 World Cup To Sonupes credit, he was conscious of moving to a club where first team football would be most likely. When I was at Birmingham I got a call from Northampton and I thought this would be more realistic for me to play in the first team. Sometimes its better to drop down to play first-team football rather than play Under-21s.The chance to work with Rob Page seems to be paying off. Hes already made the bench on several occasions this season, including the EFL Cup tie against Manchester United.Fifteen years the senior of Sonupe, Peter Odemwingie needs little introduction. Earlier this year the Nigeria international was playing Premier League football with Stoke, ending the campaign on loan at Bristol City. Although he may not face the same financial fears as those playing in the Football League, at the age of 35, having recently welcomed his third child, he still has dilemmas.Odemwingie says: Im a free agent for the first time in my career. Its been a quiet summer. Im waiting for offers to come in, the priority is to stay in the country but realising my age and Im not a future prospect for any team that will take me on. But Im definitely a good addition to a squad.Peters dream is to play at a high enough level to be able to represent Nigeria at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, the country where he grew up, when his eldest son will be old enough to remember him in action. It was another family member who almost helped to engineer what would have been a perfect move to meet those ambitions. Odemwingie reveals: I have a father-in-law thats very helpful. Hes a big football fan. He keeps saying you need to be proactive and most of the tips he gives me about clubs, Hull was one of them, he sent me an article through Whatsapp and said Tell your agent to ring them up!Odemwingies agent obliged and he featured for Hull on trial in pre-season. But manager Steve Bruces departure meant the deal was off and for now the striker with 36 goals in more than 100 Premier League appearances is still without a club. Bradley Pritchard spent time studying law at the prestigious BPP Law School The biggest dilemma met by the players weve been following for the last six months was faced by Bradley Pritchard, the midfielder who was among eight players to be released by Leyton Orient. Hed spent the last two years studying law at the prestigious BPP Law School, attending classes after training and through the summer. A latecomer to the professional game at 25, he was playing non-league football for Hayes and Yeading while working as a performance analyst at Charlton, who subsequently offered him a playing deal.He had no desires to leave full-time football, although admitted: I pretty much fell into football and I know I can fall out of it just as quickly. Speaking in a video diary in July, Bradley told us: Pre-season is in full flow. I still havent found a club, but after talking to my agent a couple of weeks ago I did get the feeling that maybe pro-football wasnt going to be something that I could carry on next year.I made a few alternative arrangements. Luckily enough one of them has come about, I was offered a job at a law firm which allows me to carry on studying and gives me a bit more experience in that industry. Its weird because I didnt think Id be in this situation, I planned for a couple of years down the road.Ironically, Bradleys trainee contract comes to an end in January in time for the transfer window. Hell reassess his options and chances of returning to full-time football then. In the meantime hes keeping himself match fit playing part-time for his local side Greenwich Borough.I dont want to say retirement because it makes it very final and thats very scary, he said. Deep down I want to carry on playing.Watch Sky Sports Originals documentary Out of Contract as we follow five footballers in their search for a club (Sky Sports 1 - 6.30pm Sunday, October 16 and available On Demand) Also See: Pundits best summer signings Europes best young player... Cruyff legacy lives on Chelseas loan hot-shots Adam Thielen Jersey . - For a general manager who preaches building through the draft, Reggie McKenzie has struggled to find impact players his first two years in Oakland. Brett Favre Jersey .com) - Australian Open champion Li Na, former Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova and former world No. . "This is my city," the Toronto native said upon his arrival Wednesday night. And the 35-year-old former league MVP says he is hoping to making 2014 a memorable year. CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Carolina Panthers are right back in the hunt for the NFC South division title and a first-round bye in the playoffs. Cam Newton threw for 273 yards and a touchdown, Captain Munnerlyn had two sacks and returned an interception for a score and the Panthers bounced back from their most lopsided loss of the season with a 30-20 win Sunday over the New York Jets. With New Orleans losing 27-16 to St. Louis, the Panthers (10-4) have pulled even with the Saints with the rematch set for next Sunday in Charlotte. If Carolina wins its final two games, it will clinch the division and the first-round bye. The Panthers havent been to the post-season since 2008. Carolinas defence, which surrendered 313 yards and four touchdowns in a 31-13 loss to New Orleans, came up big limiting rookie quarterback Geno Smith to 167 yards passing, while sacking him four times. Munnerlyn intercepted Smith in the fourth quarter and returned it 42 yards for a touchdown to seal the win. Newton was an efficient 16 of 24 passing, including a 72-yard touchdown on a screen pass to DeAngelo Williams. Williams had 81 yards rushing and 87 yards receiving. Smith was 15 of 28 with a touchdown pass and one costly interception in the fourth quarter for the fading Jets (6-8), who will be eliminated from playoff contention if Baltimore wins at Detroit on Monday night. Jeff Cumberland had a touchdown catch, and rookie defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson bulldozed his way for a 1-yard touchdown run on a goal-line play. The turning point came in the fourth quarter with the Panthers leading 16-13. The Jets had a chance to take the lead, but failed to pick up a first down and Ryan Quigleys punt was blocked by Jason Williams and downed at the Jets 14. Four plays later, bruising fullback Mike&nnbsp;Tolbert bowled his way into the end zone on a 1-yard run to make it a two-possession game. Anthony Harris Jersey. "That play really kind of sparked us," Panthers coach Ron Rivera said of Williams blocked punt. On New Yorks next series, Munnerlyn then stepped in front of a slant route for his fifth career interception return for touchdown -- a new franchise record. It was also a little revenge for the Panthers secondary, which Jets receiver Santonio Holmes referred to as "the weakest link" of Carolinas defence. "Captain is a dynamo and had a really good week of practice and it showed," Rivera said. "I told him he set the bar really high for next week." The Panthers broke open a 6-6 tie late in the first quarter when Newton faked a screen pass to the left, spun around and threw back to the other side of the field to a wide-open Williams. The 30-year-old running back beat linebacker David Harris to the right sideline and turned it up the field, getting a smothering block from wide receiver Brandon LaFell en route to a 72-yard touchdown reception. Graham Gano, who had earlier hit from 35 and 22 yards out, tacked on his third field goal of the first half from 40 yards to give the Panthers a 16-6 lead at halftime. The Jets ran for 93 yards in the first half -- the most against the Panthers in nine weeks -- but could only manage a pair of field goals by Nick Folk. Carolina led by 10 in the third quarter and Rivera went for a knockout blow on a fourth-and-2 at the Jets 14. But Quinton Coples broke up a pass by Newton and the Jets briefly seized the momentum. Smith drove the Jets 86 yards on nine plays with Richardson, a 6-foot-3, 294-pound defensive tackle, capping the drive on a 1-yard touchdown plunge to trim the lead to 16-13. 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