Not playing is never easy, but I’m keen to stay at Brentford

Since my last West London Sport blog I made my first league start of the season in the win away at Portsmouth but since then I’ve found my opportunities in the team limited once more.

Simon Moore has continued in excellent form in goal and I can understand why the manager hasn’t wanted to change things around with the team in great shape and winning games.

When you are not playing there will always be speculation about your future at the club but I want to assure fans I am keen to stay at Brentford and I am optimistic that a new contract is on the horizon.

I want to sign one before January if I can because entering the last six months of a contract without assurances of another deal is not a nice situation to be in.

I do have other interests away from football – when you reach 30 you have to start thinking about what you are going to do when you hang up your boots!

Obviously the most important thing to me at the moment is playing but aside from that I am devoting more time and attention to mentoring and coaching other goalkeepers – and it has made me realise how important it is for young professional players to have a mentor.

Young players need the right people around them, or at least one person, who can help them with life as a professional footballer when you are thrust into such a highly stressful, highly pressurised job – sometimes as young as 16 or 17.

When you’re young and trying be become successful, football is everything. It is all you think about and all you spend your time doing.

It wasn’t until I went through a real low point in my career that I realised I needed other things to bring football into focus – to give it some perspective.

I realised that one day I wouldn’t have this contract anymore, or that my career could be over in an instant and the life I currently knew would change immediately – financially, mentally and physically.

That was when I decided to pursue other things – to study psychology, explore business opportunities and find other thing in life I was interested in. And it has helped me with my football.

Playing matches is such an intense experience that if you let it take over you and don’t learn to unwind and release that stress through other things then it can affect your game.

Having other pursuits is imperative in your mental preparation for each match. I don’t think a lot of footballers, especially the younger players, realise how important and beneficial it is to them.

I would advise any young player to do a course at the same time, or a degree or learn a skill. When you are sidelined you don’t find yourself with nothing do and being depressed about it.

I was fortunate to have my father for inspiration, and he helped me look into business, but there are many players who are left to their own devices when they are not playing.

It is difficult because clubs do not have a responsibility to these players. They are hired to do a job like anyone else and what they do in their own time is up to them.

But I have known young players who have found it very hard and got into very negative situations because they have been trust into a life of money, freedom and luxury.

That is why having a mentor and more experienced players advising the younger guys is so important. There has to be more support and education for these young men.

And this is something I am aiming to do myself away from my own playing career. I want to help young players, especially goalkeepers make the best of themselves.

Richard Lee is the author of Graduation: Life Lessons Of A Professional Footballer.

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