From bench to springboard – turning career blows into stepping stones for the future

The journey for a young player to progress through the ranks and on to potential first team stardom is long and arduous at best. The route to success is not always under a player’s control and often they find themselves in a situation where they must turn the reality of failure into a means of succeeding for the future. Can this really be done?

Well Kieran Bywater is one such player, who following some years inside the academy system with a Premier League club found himself no longer wanted at the age of 20. Suddenly a potential career gone. He is not unique and without doubt the mixed mindset of emotions that he experienced after his release from the world of professional football will have happened to many and indeed many more to come! Nobody ever said this journey was going to be easy. But does anybody ever consider how to help the player to manage when he has been given the bad news of release?

Kieran like many more before him found confusion a norm in his life after the many messages stating his progress was what was expected. From representing the Under 21 side regularly as captain to now feeling a failure overnight coupled with a lack of understanding of how to manage it. After all failure is final isn’t it, nothing to be done now?

At best he had a seriously cloudy vision of a future somewhere out there and no idea of how to find it! We're sure that this is a feeling that many young players have experienced when the bad news hits. Kieran’s parents approached the Players Trust feeling that they themselves needed independent support and a means of helping their son manage adversity to create a strategy for his future.


The Trust developed a relationship with Kieran and assisted him by:

1. Working with him to manage a positive mindset which included his understanding of a perception of failure and how to make this work for him in the future

2. Helping Kieran to understand that he now had to manage his new future but that he may have needed others to help him do this

3. A vision of what this future may look like by Kieran, understanding the good things he could contribute to it

4. Creating clarity on where professional football played a part in his future, if at all!

5. Creating a strategy that Kieran decided on that included study for a degree and a continued opportunity to develop his football career


After choosing to accept a Football Scholarship in the USA it is great for the Trust to report that Kieran’s life, including his football goes from strength to strength. Indeed, the initial desire to be a professional player may not have gone! That is a question for the next future.

Seeking help to sort the confusion of events is often what is needed and the independent support that Kieran sought and used has helped him to build a new life that is commensurate to the success he and others like him are capable of achieving.