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'Int'l footballers 'isolated, unhappy' in England'

Overseas players at English football clubs are often isolated, lonely and unhappy because of the "artificial" life they lead, a study says.

india Updated: Jan 14, 2006 16:49 IST

Overseas players at English football clubs, including those in the Premiership, are often isolated, lonely and unhappy because of the "artificial" life they lead, a psychologist said Friday.

Professor Susan Cartwright from Manchester Business School, northwest England, made the assessment after conducting interviews with 15 international footballers from England's top four divisions.

She found that players were highly protected by their clubs, making it difficult for them to mix with local people or socialise at evenings and weekends. Wives and girlfriends also had problems settling.

Those in the higher echelons of the game were more insular, which was not healthy for their well-being, Cartwright told the British Psychological Society's occupational psychology conference in Glasgow, Scotland.

"They are leading an isolated life because they are so protected by their club," she said, calling for clubs to do more to help overseas players and their families settle in Britain.

"If the player brought his wife or partner with him it helped him, but the partner suffered. Some clubs even chose the house where the players live.

"The players are not learning about the culture of where they are living, so they are living an artificial life. It's a sad story."

Cartwright said part of the problem stemmed from the amount of free time footballers have once training is finished.

One unnamed US player told researchers: "The line of work we're in doesn't allow us to go out and make new friends. When you finish training you think, wow, what am I going to do now? Have a nap, that takes two hours, then what?"

A French player said: "When you leave training after two o'clock and go home, what do you do? The day is dead. You can't really go out, you must rest and you have nobody to go out with anyway."

The sport's governing body the Football Association told AFP it did not keep track of the number of overseas players registered to play in England, however, increasing numbers of non-British players are now playing in the country.