As players come towards the end of their careers in the top leagues they usually have a wealth of opportunities at their disposal. Be it taking up golf, spending more time abroad or simply kicking back and relaxing in their sprawling estates.
However, as we all know, the life of a Non-League footballer is far more rooted in reality.
Players usually have to combine their love of the beautiful game with holding down other jobs on the side in order to support both themselves and their families and then when their playing days begin to wind down they are faced with a potential dilemma of where to go next.
A little over 18 months ago that is the exact position that former Luton Town midfielder Jim Stevenson found himself in.
Stevenson was on the books with the Hatters when they reached the Football League in 2014 and went on to feature in the National League for the likes of Aldershot Town, Dover Athletic and Southport
However, following a drop down to Step 2 in 2017, the 27-year-old was forced to realistically evaluate his financial options.
“I ended up in the Conference South with Chelmsford City having played a reasonable amount of games in the Conference and League Two. I was still trying to push for a full-time move again but it was hard to provide for my family” Stevenson told The NLP.
“You are kind of left on your own a bit and when the football side of things stops, everything can feel pretty daunting.
“I had been working three jobs on the side while playing football so I decided to drop out of the game and look at potentially starting my own business.”
Stevenson used his athletic physique to his advantage by founding a fitness training company and now, with the business flourishing, he is looking to provide guidance to other Non-League footballers who find themselves in a similar position
So far the ex-Luton man has been enlisted to help the likes of former National League Golden Boot winner Dan Holman and his old Hatters teammate Curtley Williams.
He added, “What I am trying to do now is help other lads create a similar business to what I have done.
“The aim is to create time, freedom and financial security for footballers who are transitioning out of full time football or playing non-league football and want an enjoyable, profitable career alongside playing.
“We are helping other lads who feel a bit lost after or alongside football. We know how frustrating a footballer’s journey can be with the constant doubt year to year and we want to create that stability and freedom for other guys.
“I have been on loads of courses, had business coaching and mentoring for the last 18 months so have kind of fast tracked my knowledge of the fitness business.
“I speak to so many players who are feeling lost. This gives them the opportunity to do something enjoyable.
“We all communicate with each other and the players get guidance from the word go”.
Meanwhile, Stevenson has also surprised himself by making a return to the game with Jimmy Dean’s ascendant Peterborough Sports side.
The midfielder, who penned a deal with the then Step 4 club midway through last season, admits that he is loving being back out on the pitch, especially with a club who appear to have the wind in their sails.
“I had fallen out of love with the game after not being treated well by a few managers but Jimmy is a very honest guy and he told me ‘try it here and see if you enjoy it’’” Stevenson continued.
“I suppose I had basically taken a bit of a sabbatical. A bit like Pep Guardiola but not quite as glamorous!
“I am really loving it, to get promoted last year was brilliant and we want to give it a real go in Step 3 this year.
“It is great to be back playing while having more of an idea about where I might go after my career ends and I want to provide help and support to more players”.
Current or former players can contact Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org