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Inside Out: Surprising Stories, Familiar Places

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   Inside Out - East Midlands: Friday January 26, 2007
David Johnson
David Johnson - from football star to uncertain future

Beyond football

When Nottingham Forest striker David Johnson was told his career was over it was a shock.

At 30 he hadn't banked on ending his playing days so soon.

And now he doesn't know what to do with the rest of his working life.

David turns reporter for Inside Out while he weighs up his options for the future.

As Gordon Taylor, the Chief Executive of the Professional Football Association (PFA) tells Inside Out:

"For most players it's like a cold shower. And I've known many who have cracked and can't cope with life away from the game".

Short career

The average career of a footballer is just eight years.

But many like David Johnson don't plan ahead - he went into football with no qualifications.

David Johnson
David Johnson - currently coaching at Nottingham Forest

David knew he was a good player and thought he could survive with football alone.

But he was forced to retire in 2006 after failing to recover from a back injury.

Johnson made 323 club appearances during his professional career, and won five caps for Jamaica.

He was lucky to play until he was 29-years-old, despite his career being cut short by injury.

Only one in six players who go into the game at 16 are still playing when they are 21.

The story of retired footballers looking for a purpose in life has been around for a long time.

But only now are the Professional Football Association starting to send help in to advise players about their future.

Superstar striker

Tommy Lawton was a superstar in his day.

Tommy Lawton
Tommy Lawton - from football heaven to personal problems

He was a prolific goal scorer for every club side he represented as well as for England.

When Tommy signed for Notts County in 1947 it was a sensation.

The team were in the old Third Division and Tommy was still playing for England.

When his playing days ended, he returned to Notts County as manager.

But relegation led to his sacking and a slide in his personal life which eventually saw him jailed.

Retirement woes

During the making of the film David Johnson also looks at how difficult it is for football's so-called 'bad boys' who haven't made full use of the good money there is to be earned during a playing career.

Shane Nicholson
"I've known many who have cracked and can't cope with life away from the game."
Gordon Taylor
Shane Nicholson on life after football

Everyone has heard of George Best and Paul Gascoigne's woes.

But there are also those whose careers could have reached greater heights.

For Shane Nicholson who started with Lincoln City at 16 the money and time on his hands, even at the foot of the professional ladder, led him to alcohol and drug abuse.

This eventually left him facing a lifetime ban when he was caught.

For those players who have blown their money, the future can be bleak when they can't play.

But Inside Out discovers that with the help of the PFA and rehab, Shane Nicholson is still playing at 36 and knows exactly what he wants to do in the future...

He wants to stop people making the same mistakes he made.

Success stories

Then there are the success stories off the pitch as well as on it.

One name still with a high profile in Nottinghamshire is Gary Lund - but not maybe for his goal scoring feats for Notts County in the '90s.

Gary Lund
Gary Lund - from football pitch to pitching for business

Gary now runs his own Estate Agents.

He advises anyone starting out to:

"Think of life beyond the game.

"You never know when your career will end or when a club decides to drop you.

"I knew I didn't want the insecurity of life in football management so I made plans."

As for David Johnson, he is undecided on where to go next with his career.

He's currently coaching Forest's Under 12's until his contract runs out in March 2007.

Then… who knows?

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Young firefighters

How do you deal with teenagers who won't go to school, get in trouble and have no ambition?

It's a familiar problem for youth workers in Nottingham - trying to convince young people to take responsibility and do something with their lives.

But now they think they've found a new way. They've identified a group in Nottingham which they consider the most at risk of getting into trouble, and have sent them to work with firefighters.

So can it be done? Inside Out followed the teenagers over two months to see what happened.

The Salvation Army

We trace the story of William Booth, a Nottingham pawnbroker and evangelist who, with his wife Catherine from Ashbourne, created one of the biggest and best known Christian organisations operating in 110 countries across the world.

Inside Out tells the story of Booth's grim beginnings in the dark back streets of Nottingham, and finds out what the 'Army' is doing to help the forgotten homeless in those same streets.

The story takes us to the poverty of Africa where we discover why Booth's message is still very much alive.



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