Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini has encouraged players to attend university to prepare themselves for life after they retire from football.
The 34-year-old defender supports FIFPro's 'Mind the Gap' campaign, which helps footballers learn important life skills which will help them remain financially stable following retirement. The scheme also hopes to tackle mental health issues that often plague footballers following their retirement from the game.
Speaking in an interview with FIFPro, Chiellini supported the cause, insisting footballers need to be ready for life as a former player. He said: “As a footballer, at 20 years old you feel indestructible and able to do anything in football. But at 35 your career is more or less finished.
"You then have the rest of your life in front of you, and just being able to play football is not enough.
“Only a few players manage to find a job in football. There’s also the risk of depression, and there are many former players with financial problems because they have not thought about what they are going to do, they have not opened their minds by studying.
“Each footballer has different tastes and they can choose which road they want to go down after football, but the important thing is to do something. As a footballer, you need to start thinking about life after football at the beginning of your career, not at the end.”
FIFPro state that just 13 per cent of active footballers have higher education qualifications, and Chiellini is one of those players.
During his time with Juventus, he has obtained degrees in economics and business administration, and encourages fellow players to do the same, adding that the studies even helped him on the field.
“Studying helped me relieve some of the pressure in the world of football, and kept my brain sharp. If you are not sharp in matches you can’t make the quick decisions that you need to reach the top level in football.”