Clubs need to prepare players for life after football - McGuinness
STEPHEN McGUINNESS has called on Irish clubs to do more to prepare players for life after football as a team made up of out-of-contract players secured third place at a tournament in Oslo.
"I think the clubs have a responsibility to help prepare players for life after football, but at the moment it's way down the line in terms of priorities," PFAI chief McGuinness said.
McGuinness was speaking at a tournament organised by international players' union FIFPro in the Norwegian capital, where having narrowly lost their opening game to hosts Norway on penalties, Ireland comfortably beat Finland 2-0 to claim third spot.
"Thankfully, things are settling down a bit now in the league, but it is something I'd like to see in the future. At the moment it's down to our association."
His sentiments were echoed by Sweden team manager Jesper Blomqvist, who said he was lucky to have been economically independent when his career was ended by injury.
"I don't think you can expect the top clubs to do it, because their players are paid so much money they can just concentrate on their football," said the ex- Manchester United winger, who was part of the 1999 treble-winning side.
"But lower down, in Sweden for example, where the players don't make that much money, I think clubs need to do something to prepare players for life after their careers are finished."
Blomqvist was assisted in the Swedish dugout by ex- Newcastle United striker Andreas Andersson, whose own career was ended by a persistent knee injury. Andersson was sceptical about players paying any heed to efforts to prepare them for life outside the game.
"When you're a player, you're still dreaming the dream – there was never any talk in the dressing-rooms I was in about planning for the future or life outside the game. I retired in 2005 and I'm still not quite sure what I want to do!"
Despite not having played competitive football for several months, the Irish players looked fit and sharp, and McGuinness said the FIFPro tournament is a good yardstick for them.
"It's good for them to measure their fitness against the best out-of-contract players in Scandinavia and to see if they have to step up a level."
Seasoned campaigners such as Liam Burns (ex-Dundalk) and Stephen O'Flynn (ex-St Patrick's Athletic) were blended with younger talents like Danny Joyce (ex- Bohemians), Barry O'Mahony (ex-Athlone Town) and Tadhg Purcell, who was on loan at Cork City in 2012.
O'Flynn, in particular, was looking to the future and can see himself moving abroad when his playing days are done.
"I'm 30 now and, hopefully, I have a few years left playing. After that I'd like to go into coaching, maybe in America. I haven't started my coaching badges yet. It'd be better to do them over there if I want to work there," O'Flynn said.
McGuinness said he was happy with the team's performance, and that the players' union would continue to take part in such tournaments.
"This is the third year we've been here," he said. "We're still waiting for some feedback, but I think it's gone very well."