One of the first things you learn in football is the importance of your team. No one wins a game on their own. Over my career, my favourite moments have been when I’ve been part of a group that came together and achieved more than people thought we could – the FA Cup Final with Millwall, a 4th place EPL finish with Everton, and getting through the group stages of the 2006 World Cup with the Socceroos.
The importance of the players around you was especially highlighted for someone like me – I wasn’t a guy who would take the ball, dribble through the opposition defence and score. Most of my goals came on the end of crosses and passes. I was reliant on my teammates to be the best I could be.
I’ve also found it to be true that your ‘off the park’ team is really important. Something that I’ve put a real conscious effort into is making sure that I have a team of people around me that I know I can turn to and trust.
In times like the recent isolation period, that team becomes even more vital.
For me it starts with my immediate family. My wife and kids have been such a great support network over my football career and even more so now that I’m retired. I knew that whether I’d scored a match-winner or lost a cup final, when I got home, they would be there for me just the same. Now in isolation, we’ve really drawn together and helped each other through a difficult time. Going for runs together, playing family games of football in the backyard, and helping with schoolwork have all made the last couple of months a lot more enjoyable.
Beyond my immediate family, my extended family are the next part of my team. My parents, brothers, sister and their kids are all a massive part of my life. Although they live on the opposite side of the world, we’ve been facetiming my Australian family every day which has helped us all feel connected and supported.
I know that I’m lucky to have the support network that I do. Not everyone is in the same situation. But I think that having a group of people who you know you can pick up the phone and call, just to chat, is something that everyone can and should work towards.
At VITAMAN, we believe you are at your best when you have a team around you; for support, for encouragement or most importantly just to be with you, to listen when you really need it.
I’m really glad to be a part of your team, and I look forward to sharing more with you, in the coming weeks and months.