Brownrigg, Andrew, Burr, Vivien, Locke, Abigail and Bridger, Alexander J. (2012) You don't know what's around the corner: A qualitative study of professional footballers in England facing career-transition. Qualitative Methods in Psychology Bulletin (14). ISSN 2044-0820

Career transition in sport is a rapidly growing area within the field of sport psychology. Interest in this area has been fuelled by the need for an increased number of professional athletes seeking support and assistance during transition from sport. However, whilst research in this field has focused in on a wide range of sports, specific research on retirement in professional football has been limited. Because of this it is argued that current research may fail to consider specific issues associated with the transition from professional football. Therefore, in an attempt to add to the existing body of research the current study aimed to provide an in-depth insight into how professional footballers understand their ‘lived-world’ during exit from their sport. A total of eight former professional footballers, who were at the time experiencing the possibility of career-transition, were interviewed in two separate focus group discussions. The interviews were analysed using interpretive phenomenological analysis (IPA). The key findings from the research show that a lack of control over their lives, lack of pre-planning and preparation for retirement as well as support and ability to seek it led professional footballers to experience heightened levels of anxiety, uncertainty and fear for their futures as well as an unexpected sense of rejection during career transition. These findings have implications for support organisations and those interested in the life-long welfare of professional footballers. It is proposed that an emphasis on pre-planning and preparation, provisions of support and encouraging help-seeking may aid professional footballers during the process out of their sport.

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