28 January 2020

England and Chelsea legend Claire Rafferty describes her struggle since giving up football and says more should be done to help ex-players cope

England and Chelsea legend Claire Rafferty says she has struggled with retirement after hanging up her boots seven months ago.

Her last match was the FA Cup Final when playing for West Ham, which they lost 3-0 to Manchester City.

While Rafferty played for Chelsea 101 times, she transferred to West Ham for the last year of her career - a move that left an impact on her.

“I never really felt the same afterwards. That’s nothing to do with West Ham – just a little bit inside me died.

“I could have carried on [playing], but I didn’t want to just be an average player,” she told The Telegraph.

Rafferty playing int he 2015 World Cup (PA Images)

Since stepping back from football she has become a partnership sales manager at Chelsea and, while she loves her new position, she says no-one helped her deal with the loss of being a football player.

“When I retired, not one person said to me ‘It’s going to be really tough'. You can’t put it all on the clubs – everyone has to take their own responsibility for themselves – but I feel like I’m going to make it my mission to talk to some of the teams about how difficult it is. That might start pre-empting people to put little plans in place.

“It’s difficult, because we can just about invest in players, let alone people, because of the money. The help is there – but it should be advertised more. You do just get put into the real world. There’s no easing in period. You have to find who you are without football. Football’s just a big shield.”

Although she misses the game, Rafferty does not wish she could be playing now.

“There’s a question that everyone always asks that annoys me, 'do you wish you were playing now'?

"It’s rude, because it disrespects everything everyone’s done before. No, I don’t, because if I did play now, the feeling I had when I retired would be 10 times worse because players are put in this bubble. They get everything. They don’t even have to pay their own bills. It’s ridiculous.”

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