There have been instances of footballers, and those that have excelled during their playing career, destroying their wealth post it. According to statistics provided by charity body, Xpro, 33 per cent of players end up divorced within one year after their retirement. While there are the likes of Messi and Ronaldo who have probably earned enough for their next few generations, 40 per cent of footballers are declared bankrupt, within five years of their retirement.
Ex Liverpool and FC Barcelona midfielder, Luis Garcia has advice for such footballers to steer clear from bankruptcy and stay relevant. He explains, "It’s about looking to continue to improve once you finish your sports career. I think, for us, it was good to be linked with Liverpool as ambassador. It helps us stay in contact with the supporters, travel around the world and embed the club’s philosophies and values to those supporters. I think it’s important to invest in yourself. Studying a little bit is also important."
And while athletes have a shorter shelf life, he warns them not to take up every brand endorsement that comes their way. "During your career when brands come to you, it depends on the stage you are in. There have been a couple of brands I’ve turned down because of the situation. At the end it’s about your image. It’s no good to engage with brands that would not suit the image. I have filtered such engagements and kept the best ones in terms of my image."
Garcia was in Mumbai along with Robbie Fowler, Sami Hyypia and Vladimir Smicer to engage with fans for 'LFC World' over the last weekend.
Garcia first came to India in 2014 as a player for ATK in the ISL. Since then he's been a regular to the country having made visits as brand ambassador for Heineken, a TV expert during the recently held FIFA U-17 World Cup and more.
On this particular visit, he said, "I have been to India a few times. This time it’s for LFC World. We try to bring a piece of the team to all the corners of the world. We have a fantastic fan base in Mumbai and we are here to engage them, click pictures, sign autographs etc…"
Garcia had come out of retirement to join ATK as a marquee player back in 2014. From then to now he sees a great change in the level of football and the facilities in India.
"In 2014, it was the first big tournament in India. It was a short term tournament back then, just four months in totality including pre-season. It was a new experience for me. I enjoyed my time with the team and we were lucky to win the competition. The league has changed since then. It’s been three years working. And in 2017-18 it’s longer and it was important for the competition to expand," said Garcia.
He added, "The quality has improved too. I watched a few games last year and the level of the Indian players was quite good. I’m not talking about the international players. I think the league wanted to use the experience of the international players to increase the level of football in India. I was lucky to watch the FIFA U-17 World Cup from Mumbai and I was surprised to see the quality of the Indian players. I spoke with Baichung Bhutia about it and he told me they were doing pretty well travelling around the world and beating teams."
While the quality is improving, Garcia warns fans to not compare Indian football to European or other more established leagues. "It’s about the time. You cannot compare Europe or other countries with India currently because they have been playing and having competitive leagues for years now. India has just started this. If you have to compare, you can compare the MLS (USA) or A League (Australia) which started more recently. If India continues investing (more) in grassroots and academies the country can rise. The most important thing for India to do now is not compare their level of football with other countries. I think the U-17 World Cup would have helped the youth immensely."
Garcia has around 3,30,000 followers on Twitter and 72,000 on Facebook.
Garcia informs that he uses social media for both engaging with fans and brands. He says, "You need to keep in touch with fans and social media gives that opportunity. You can keep in touch with things that you like to do, tell them what you like in terms of food, inform where you’re travelling etc. At the end of the day it allows interaction with fans. I interact a lot with fans. In terms of brands, I endorse them on social media too, depending on what it is."