• The Business Owner

Life after Sport - John Finnigan

Name: John Finnigan

Sporting Credentials: Former pro footballer: Nottingham Forest, Lincoln City, Cheltenham Town, Kidderminster Harriers

Date of Retiring from Professional Sport: November 2011

Current Job/Business: Brand Ambassador for Jonny-Rocks Luxury Chauffeur Services. Just left Cheltenham Town FC as Commercial Manager after 6 years in post

Current Business Website: www.jonnyrockschauffeurs.co.uk

When did you know it was time to retire?

After a number of recurring calf injury setbacks at the age of 34, although it was extremely difficult to accept, I knew my body was telling me that it was time to bow out.

Were you able to prepare for life after sport, if so what did you do?

I gained some football coaching qualifications whilst still playing, Level 1, Level 2 and my UEFA B licence which would allow me to coach around Europe at the time. I, and many others imagined that coaching and management in football would be a natural progression for me but when I tried my hand at it, I didn’t feel it suited me which was quite a shock, but I chose not to follow that path having realised I wouldn’t feel happy doing so.

Why did you choose to do what you do now?

The truth is I didn’t, I have been fortunate that opportunities have fallen my way, partly due to luck and timing but also because I always tried to help and support people in my playing days and I have found those people I helped back then are more than willing to help me now. I feel my strengths are in developing relationships and trust with people and that has served me well in my role as a Commercial Manager with my focus on Partnerships, account management, sponsorships and hospitality sales.

What is the biggest challenge you face being in business?

Competition, being a small fish in a large pond and living and working in an area where football is not the number 1 sport. Cheltenham Racecourse, Gloucester Rugby Club, Gloucestershire county Cricket club are looking for partnerships and sponsorships in the sporting arena and they are all premium brands. It’s tough to compete but it has been an enjoyable challenge. Attracting more regular supporters is the biggest challenge, hopefully one day we will see the fan base grow.

What is one thing you learnt from your professional sport career that you use today?

That you have to be mentally strong and believe in what you are doing, you have to be resilient. Work hard and you will reap the rewards. You are only as strong as your weakest link and the team is always more important than any individual. Be the best you can be and always be willing to listen and learn. There are ups and downs, but you have to always know that change and success stories can be just around the corner when times are tough, you just have to be willing to get your head down and make things happen. Never Ever give up on what you believe in. The same philosophies i try to live by apply in sport, business and life in the most part.

Which is harder – sport or work? And why?

Sport became work for me, but it was a huge privilege to do what I loved for a living, so it very rarely felt like work. I don’t think there is a correct answer to that question. They are both hard if you want to reach the top, nobody is given anything, you have to earn it. Christiano Ronaldo for example probably works harder than anyone in world football and he is reaping the rewards and deserves his success. It's the same in business, if you want to reach the top and be the best you must do the same. All high achievers work hard even though for some it may come more naturally than others.

Anything else you want to add?

I only left my post at Cheltenham Town FC at the end of April so my answers above are based on experience within my previous role of 6 years with the club

How can people follow you?

I’m on Linkedin. John Finnigan