Millwall FC veteran Darren Ward has set up a wealth management business to look after the finances of peers plying their trade outside of the Premiership elite.
The 32-year-old, a central defender with the Championship side between 2001 and 2005 and again from 2009 to the present day, is a director and shareholder of New Incentive Financial Consultants, an introducer of Finsbury Financial.
He says: "I know from first-hand experience that when you are outside the elite of the highest-paid Premiership players, you don't necessarily have access to the best financial advice.
"Many football players earn decent money, but it is not enough that they can afford not to worry about money when they retire.
"They are like many other people in different occupations. They work hard and they have to make that money stretch a long way. I have seen and heard of many players being given entirely inappropriate advice."
Ward, who has made more than 200 appearances for Millwall, said one of the issues, particularly for young players, is that they start earning good money very early in their career and don't know how to handle it.
Many also rely on their agents to point them in the right direction, which again can cause problems.
"We have relationships with some top agents, such as Athole Still (Sven Goran Ericsson's agent) and we will work with the agents to give their players independent advice," he says.
"Equally, if a player or manager needs a good agent, we can introduce them to the top agents, but we will not accept any introductory commissions for this. Our role is only to give good financial advice to players and managers."
Ward, who made headlines on the BBC earlier this year when it was revealed he runs a cattery in his spare time, sees the business venture as part of his own long-term planning when he hangs up his boots.
"I can't see myself as a manager or a coach. The stress is too much and I would rather concentrate on helping players make the most of what they earn during their playing career."
Ward's business partner, Lee Eldridge, adds: "In this day and age you shouldn't be reading stories about players going bankrupt because their investments have gone wrong.
"We've moved on from the days when players retired and bought a pub and eked out a living, and there's no reason why the current generation shouldn't be able to set themselves up because it requires sensible planning and it requires people who understand what it's like to be a footballer."
Ward comes from a footballing family. His younger brother Elliott currently plays as a central defender for Norwich, and two more brothers previously played professionally.
If both Millwall and Norwich have a good run between now and the end of the season, the Ward brothers may play one another other next season in the Premiership. Worse still, they could face each other in this season's Championship play-offs.
Darren and Lee also try, where possible, to leverage these football connections to help charities like the Naomi House, and Dreams come true which provides support to children and young adults , with life limiting conditions and Everyman the UK's leading prostate and testicular cancer campaigners, although in a small way, it's their way of trying to help facilitate ‘giving back'.
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