Ex-MK Dons footballer Drewe Broughton, who is now one of the UK’s top motivational speakers and mentors, recounts his own experiences of glory with the club to reveal the harsh reality of individual pressure.
So MK Dons have celebrated another promotion. An important one, as after the misery of last season it was crucial for the club to bounce back. It was not an easy task and credit must go to all involved.
Back in May 2008 I was part of the squad of players that won the league and cup double under the stewardship of Paul Ince.
Whilst the celebrations ran on from the pitch to the dressing room, the awards ceremonies to the party and, for us, a trip to Las Vegas, there are many false smiles.
You see every footballer is living their boyhood dream, however dreams can quickly turn to nightmares. Lying awake as a young boy, dreaming of scoring and playing well for my team on a Sunday morning, what would haunt me was being dropped to the bench, playing badly or not scoring.
That internal pressure is both the gift and the curse of an above average drive and desire. So by the time you’re an established professional and it’s your job, those voices are even louder.
You are aware of the grains of sand draining through the egg timer of your finite career. Every game spent out of the team, self doubt and fear that you are running out of time grows larger.
It’s best described as ego – the mind made false sense of reality. We often hear about managing ego’s being essential to team harmony.
It is. But it takes a real sense of awareness by the leader of not only what the players are going through but, most importantly, re-living what they went through.
Digging up all those painful feelings of their playing careers so best to gain identification and then trust with players.
So amid all the jubilation, there will be many players afraid. Afraid of their contract situations, afraid of whether new players will replace them.
Their head’s saying “but you didn’t really contribute, did you?” Feeling less than, feeling like a fraud. Contract talks may have begun within days of glory and players can quickly have their bubbles burst when the offer from the club comes through to their agent.
You realise quickly how much you are “valued” and that can really, really hurt. Inside every team is a group of individuals with their own pressures internally and externally. Their own disappointments and fears. There’s a harsh reality to the glory.