Kicking On: How Footballers Win the Post-Retirement Game of Life by Tony Rickson – Review

Kicking On – How Footballers Win the Post-Retirement Game of Life by Tony Rickson

By Karl Hornsey

Football journalist Tony Rickson’s third post-retirement book Kicking-On is a heartwarming and inspiring offering telling the tales of footballers who have flourished since hanging up their boots. This follows Gooaal! The Joy of Football Celebrations and Football is Better With Fans, titles which go some way to demonstrating how engaged and attached Rickson is to the game and how he’s been able to unearth so many fascinating stories of former players.

It’s been well documented how challenging life can be for sportsmen and women from across all sports upon retirement, as the limelight fades and the adulation stops, yet life goes on regardless. There have been countless tales of mental health issues, financial struggles and addictions, and hard-luck stories, some of which have ended happily, but others that have had tragic outcomes. So it’s quite a refreshing tack to take a different approach, as Rickson has done here, by showcasing the lives of those who have gone from strength to strength and prospered, avoiding some of the more common traps that others have fallen into.

Kicking On – How Footballers Win the Post-Retirement Game of Life by Tony Rickson

“Some of the first football superstars”

This book also shows just how many options there are for players once their talents on the pitch have waned, far from the cliched, yet often true, scenarios of the ‘70s and ‘80s when it seemed as though most footballers when asked about what they wanted to do later in life, would invariably have ‘manage a pub’ pretty high up their list. To his credit, Rickson does actually include a short chapter on those who have gone into hospitality, but these days players have much more opportunity to stay in the sport, be that through commentary and analysis, coaching, matchday hospitality or the never-ending demand for after-dinner circuit speaking.

As well as those who have stayed within the sport, here we also have post-football careers in as diverse subjects as politics, films, reality TV shows, business, and charity fundraising, and Rickson selects his players from across the eras, meaning there’s something for everyone in this book, from World Cup winners and some of the first football superstars, to today’s more media-savvy and well-known public figures.

And with a roll call of players that includes the likes of Bobby Moore, Paul Gascoigne, Ian Wright, Lou Macari and, er, Vinnie Jones, there are so many stories here it’s almost impossible to keep track.

But, crucially, Kicking On is a collection of examples that really makes you feel good to read, to know that there’s hope for anyone to make a success of themselves several times over in life, and that your first stab at life and at the career you love doesn’t have to be the be all and end all.

‘Kicking On – How Footballers Win the Post-Retirement Game of Life’ by Tony Rickson is £12.99, and available to buy from


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