Life After Professional Football – Interview With Lee Sandford
In a recent article published by the BBC, it was brought to light that many former professional sportspeople have had concerns about their career after retirement. Typically in sport, average retirement age is 30 and this can be quite a daunting prospect.
Trading College’s MD Lee Sandford had an 18-year career in professional football. Lee understands first hand what the transition from professional sportsman to another career can be like. Now a Certified Financial Technician, MSTA, CFTe, and best-selling author, Lee predominately earns his living as a trader and mentor. His message to his students is: “Learn how to trade properly and you can have as much freedom in your life as you want”. Lee shares with us his transition from professional footballer to professional trader.
Lee, can you tell us about your football career?
I started playing football at Portsmouth FC. I signed ‘Schoolboy’ forms at 14, Apprenticeship forms at 16 and Professional Football forms at 17. Having played 79 games for Portsmouth FC, I went on to play for Stoke City totaling up 325 games. In around 1996-97 I played for Sheffield United and played a few hundred games for them too. I played 525 1st team games!
I had a few loan spells with Reading and Stockport County and was Captain at Sheffield United. At the same time, I started my degree in Sports Science and Coaching. I also completed my Coaching badges with Manchester Met University. I retired from professional football at the age of 34 due to a serious neck injury when playing for Sheffield United.
What did you do after retirement?
After retiring from football, I went into trading the financial markets full-time. I got into this career by trading stocks and shares when I was playing football. A friend of mine in Yorkshire introduced me to trading. He’d bought Forex Currency in the traditional way of buying currency and holding on to it. He made a fortune that way. That’s how I started to get into it.
I started trading full-time at age 34 and I’m now 49 so that’s 15 years full-time trading! In 2008, I set up Trading College in response to the demand from other traders wanting to watch me live trading. I started out by helping friends to make a career as a trader. Now, I trade my own trading accounts and teach and mentor my students on how to trade the financial markets.
How does an average day look like for you these days?
Most of the time, I take my children to school, go into the Trading College office and open the Live Trading Room and start trading live with our Pro-Trader Programme and Mentorship students. Just like everyone else, I go about earning my day’s money! I trade the US market open in the afternoon and finish trading around 3 o clock. The rest of my day is spent filming market updates and mentoring our students. Fridays are my day off. I reward myself for my great trading week by spending the day playing golf.
What do you enjoy most about trading?
Trading the financial markets isn’t really a job to me – I’m fascinated with charts and patterns so I enjoy it. Trading gives me freedom and I love it. I can play golf and spend time with my kids and my family and I really enjoy doing that! I can also do it anywhere around the world; if I’m speaking at a conference in Stockholm for example, I can still look at the markets on my phone. That’s what I enjoy about it – it gives you the freedom to do what you want when you want.
What’s the main difference between professional football and trading?
I don’t have worry too much about my diet and keeping fit anymore! I had to be so disciplined and monitor what I ate… at least now I can spend Christmas with my family and I’m not stuck in a hotel somewhere in England. Both careers require a high level of discipline but trading gives you more flexibility.
What do you miss about your career in football?
I miss being paid to keep fit and running around all the time. I miss the banter with all the lads in the changing rooms. And the big game occasions, running out to the pitch and that big adrenaline buzz you get when you are playing against a top team.
Can you tell us more for anyone thinking of learning to trade?
There is a lot of earning potential from trading the financial markets. You’ve got to weigh up how much money per month you need to give you the freedom you want in your life. Where you don’t have to commute to work… don’t have to get on the train or answer to a toxic boss. Price it up, benchmark how much do you need to make in order for you to make the decision to trade full-time. It could be £200 a day for example, and that and more is achievable with trading!
With trading, you have the ability to make a lot of money, especially when the markets are moving fast! Of course, you can lose it too which is why it’s so important you go into trading with a solid education. You don’t have to have qualifications to become a trader but I do have technical analysis qualifications because I’m teaching trading to students.
Do you have any advice for sportspeople thinking of learning to trade?
There are actually loads of professional football players that are trading the financial markets as they are playing football. I suppose it’s that determination to win and discipline that you get embedded into you as a football player that can actually apply and help you when trading the markets. That’s why trading suited me and would suit many professional sportspeople because they have the determination to succeed!
My sports career gave me the determination needed to win and the discipline needed to follow the rules. The thing with sportspeople is they’ve gone through setbacks and come out of it. When you are playing football, you win a game one week and lose the next week and you have to be able to come back from it and bounce right back. It’s the same with trading, you have to be able to come back from a losing trade. So, the determination, discipline and psychology aspects are very similar between sport and trading.
Give it a go! It’s a different career from football or playing sport because you are mostly sitting at a desk. Saying that, you don’t have to be, you could be mobile trading. It’s a great career if you are fed up with travelling all around the world with sport and you just want to do something for yourself – its a perfect business. It’s just you and the charts and your decision making. If you have a good account size, which you are likely to have if you are coming out of a professional sport, then away you go and you can go on and trade!