Eamon Zayed Derry City striker Eamon Zayed gives his hard-hitting views on the Airtricity League every week
Combination reaps rewards
Published: March 03, 2010
During my time at Drogheda United, the football club was having major financial troubles at the back-end of the 2008 season. Week by week, we were left wondering what percentage of our wages, if any, were going to get paid. Some of us had mortgages; some had kids and other bills. It was a time of uncertainty for all of us involved and the bitter reality that we were not going to get a full-time wage again from Drogheda hit home.

Prior to that, we were all living in our own little professional football bubble, myself included. I mean, we were well looked after in every possible way, life was good and it was all too easy, but it couldn’t last forever and eventually our bubble burst. I remember having a chat with some of the lads on the team and asking them what they would do if they couldn’t find employment with another full-time football team.

Fortunately, myself, I received a phone call from Liam Buckley, and I was one of the lucky ones who found full-time employment with another full-time football team in Ireland, Sporting Fingal. I feel extremely lucky and proud to have played football at the highest level in Ireland for the past 8 years and I am lucky enough and appreciate the fact that I am one of the few players in Ireland still earning a wage through playing the game I love.

Thanks to the support shown by Liam Buckley and others involved at Fingal, in particular John O’Brien, they have allowed me complete a masters in Finance and Capital Markets in D.C.U. Combining both football and college is tough but extremely rewarding. However, it is something that I have grown used to. When I was 16, I had the opportunity to sign for Arsenal Football Club but I opted to finish my leaving certificate before trying my luck across the water. I signed for Leicester City Football Club the following year after completing my leaving cert but that move didn’t work out and as soon as I came back from England I started a marketing course in college.

I signed for Bray Wanderers in 2003 and subsequently started a full-time Business degree course in D.I.T, combining part-time football with my full-time college course. When I signed for Drogheda United in 2006, it was on a full-time basis but I was able to continue my Business course on by night which consisted of classes three a week. I successfully completed my Business Degree in 2008 and as I’ve said, I am currently combining a Finance masters in D.C.U with my full-time football commitments with Sporting Fingal.

Life after football is something that I have always thought of, even at a young age. I found I had a keen interest in business so I decided then to further my education by doing a degree. Combining football with college is tough and time-consuming, and sometimes mentally and physically draining. Trying to combine the physical aspect of football with the mental stress of studying for college examinations proves to be very difficult.

However, it is rewarding and getting an education is extremely important, especially in the current economic climate. It is vital for players within our league to think about what they would like to do after football. The most important thing for any player is to find an area of interest, something that they might find enjoyable. That way, you will find it a lot easier combining football with college.

As we have seen over the past few seasons and years in Ireland, nothing is guaranteed, no matter what job you’re in. It’s time to start planning for the future and combining an education with football is something I would recommend to every footballer. If any player had any queries or questions on starting a college course I would be more than willing to help.