Then & Now

Then & Now

A comparison of the highs and lows of professional football… Or is it???

My Home Premier League debut against Liverpool for Aston Villa as a young pro and a more mature composed John McGrath in his midfield role at Burton Albion captaining the side.
I am making the comparison to highlight that I believe whatever level or age you play the professional game, it still puts you in the elite 1% of those who “make it” as a professional footballer.

I had it all. I was playing, YES playing, in the greatest league on the planet and living every young boys dream. But if your expecting the same old sob story of a player who had it all and now has nothing because I had to ply my trade in the lower leagues then this is not the story for you. Because for me I still have it all and have for my whole career. This is a lesson to every young kid that there is life beyond the Premier League. I have carved out a great career and had lots of highlight’s which include playing Premier League football, representing my country, winning league titles and captaining a football league club. Now that for me is a successful career, the lower leagues may not come with all the trimmings and riches of the Premier League but I went to work every day with a huge smile on my face and never once wanted to miss a days training.

So who is the better player in the picture above. The young naive untapped talent that had just come over from the Emerald Isle on the left or on the right the 300+ appearance holder who has come out smiling from everything that football has thrown at him. From spending summers without a club to long term injuries I am proud to say that I have come through it all and still love the game today and love my career that I have carved out for myself. So I think the boy on the right is a much better player now than the one on the left and anyone who thinks a player is done and dusted just because of his age or level he plays at should really think again.



  1. Nice piece Hopper! Great to have that perspective and appreciate what you have achieved and where youre at in life. Enjoy the rest of your career.
    Great Respect

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