May 9, 2012

When does one retire?

Akhila Ranganna

When to retire and what to do with your new life? Sometimes answering those questions can be harder than playing the sport you love, finds out Michael Vaughan, as he interviewed several athletes as part of a television documentary exploring how sportsmen handle retirement. More in The Telegraph.

As the end of a career looms we all say the same things. John McEnroe tells me the two things he said he would never do again were play and commentate. He has done both. That sums it up. We all say we will never go back. But we do. We love talking and playing the game we excelled at.

Recognising that, but also accepting you can’t perform at the level you once did, and acknowledging the next generation, is part of the healing process. For some it takes an instant. For others a lifetime.

Michael Vaughan on his opportunity to meet some of his sporting heroes to find out how they dealt with facing the end of their sporting lives for a BBC documentary.

I retired in 2009 and never really struggled because, like George Foreman said to me, you have to use your sport to help your life afterwards. I did that during my last year at Yorkshire, planning for my next life by having meetings about starting a business and media career. But I still felt weird in those first nine months after finishing, not turning up at the ground and performing, not having the crowd applaud a good shot.

During the documentary I spoke to a variety of people who have experienced lots of different feelings after retirement. Those included former Arsenal and England captain Tony Adams, tennis player John McEnroe and boxer George Foreman to badminton's Gail Emms, golfer Darren Clarke, rugby player Matt Hampson and ex-England bowler Matthew Hoggard. But one of the big things that comes across in the documentary is that we all get addicted to the sport we play and there's not many who can do without it. I certainly couldn't do without the cricket.

Akhila Ranganna is assistant editor (Audio) at ESPNcricinfo

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