How NOT to be a Football Millionaire

By: Keith Gillespie

I don’t have time to gamble anymore; I flick through the racing pages now.

On Saturdays, I still like to do a football accumulator and maybe a few quid on the golf as well, but it’s only small money. I never received any treatment for my betting habit, so I can’t describe myself as a reformed gambler. I just grew out of the madness; it’s unsustainable. Claire will never allow me to go down that road again.

I have to do the right thing by my kids now, and that’s going to colour all my future decisions. There’s plenty of people around me to help; Mum, Dad, Angela and Heather all live within a two-mile radius and Claire’s family are close by too. As much as I like being based in Northern Ireland, I can’t say for certain that I’m going to live there forever. I’ll have to go wherever the work is. But for Nico’s sake, it would be good to have stability. Before I know it, he’ll be old enough to pose questions too, wondering about what his Daddy used to do.

People assume that I’m weighed down with regrets, and it might sound like a contradiction when I say that I’m not. Heck, I’ve made so many mistakes, done so many stupid things. Trusted the wrong people, ignored the right ones. And I’ve still got a lot of talking to do to sort my head out. I’ve mastered the art of self deprecation; I can go on a stage and talk about how my big money move to Newcastle was good news for me and better news for the bookies and people laugh. If that’s how I’m to be remembered, then so be it.

I am proud of my football career though. I’ll tell Nico that. I was able to pull on the shirt of some huge clubs, alongside great players, under a selection of the biggest names and best managers the game has ever seen.

Maybe I didn’t meet other people’s expectations but when I was kicking a ball around Northern Ireland as a kid, I didn’t have any. I just wanted to play.

Life’s easy when you’re running around a field with a ball at your feet. Figuring out what I’m going to do without it will be tough, but I’ve got to find a way. The most important people in my life are depending on it.

I’m not there yet. There’s no simple way of signing off this story. Phil can keep me asking the same question the same day of the week. Chances are, I’ll give him a different response every time.

The gameplan?

Don’t have one. Not sure that I ever did.

What happens now?

Honestly, I haven’t got a clue.

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