During my career I have lived away from home for many years. Sometimes this can have a huge effect on an athletes career but thankfully for me I embraced each country and culture along the way. I understood from an early age that a career in football is a very short one, so it was important to dedicate myself with 100% effort at all times. It is never easy leaving home but it is important to follow your passion and develop your skill set and I believe sport also gives you such an advantage in life to help you learn life lessons from an early age. My family knew how much I loved the game and backed my talent and supported me all the time. It made it much easier and every time you played a game you were also playing for them.
(Image credit: Belfast Live)
Things like winning and losing, learning and becoming more knowledgeable on the game, how to interact with people from all over the world, overcoming adversity, how to handle interviews after winning or losing, how to adapt to a new team or city, how to work well with others and be a good teammate and to develop yourself individually for the good of the team. These are all disciplines that make us better people and I’m thankful that football and sport gave me that head start in life. Without sport I’m not sure when I would’ve learnt these lessons and now more than ever I can give back and help others develop their talents and become the best version of themselves.
Aside from playing for Wolverhampton Wanderers, Linfield, Derry City, Shamrock Rovers, Partick Thistle, Sacramento Republic, Ottawa Fury, Dundalk and Larne FC, I got to represent my county teams and national teams in various competitions. I got to compete against and with elite players and develop my all round game, constantly learning and improving all the time.
When you give your best you start to get rewarded and success usually follows. It is important to enjoy the success but to also keep humble and look towards the next trophy to compete for. You never know how many finals or medals you will win, so setting goals is very important. I enjoyed a lot of time with fans and people from the community in different cities I lived in. This is so important to me and I believe every player should help out when they can because whether you like it or not, to someone you are a role model and you can make a huge difference to someone’s life just through sport.
Getting involved in sport and in a team early is great and will open up many opportunities. I would encourage anyone who is already in sport to keep pushing for consistency. This will help you become a better footballer or athlete and you will see many improvements. If you are reading this and thinking about getting involved in sport, even if it is not to be in competition, you can enjoy all the health benefits and freedom of being outside and have a better and healthier lifestyle.