Michael Kinsella, a gifted goalkeeper who played for Liverpool Schoolboys, threw his talent away as a teenager after becoming involved with the wrong crowd.
After finishing a 12-year sentence for supplying drugs just over 12 months ago, he now runs OnSIDE – a charity set up to support those youngsters that football leaves behind.
Academy players up and down the country set their sights on playing first team football, but the harsh reality is that a staggering 96% will find themselves on football’s scrapheap by the age of 18 and only a tiny percentage will still be in the game by the time they reach 21.
Michael, who goes into sports clubs to talk to youngsters about the consequences of crime, delivered these startling statistics to members of Rovers Academy, who were given a real wake-up call from the former inmate.
He said: “What we are doing is unbelievably important, because it shows how valuable the choices that they make are for the rest of their lives. It’s about encouraging them to try even harder with their football and to make them understand the importance of the education side.
“I came up here last year to talk to the lads who are now the second years and they were grasped by what I’ve been through and where I was, in terms of trying to be a footballer. I thought they listened to what I had to say and the questions afterwards showed that. I hope they can take the impact of what it’s all about and take something from it.”