Former Manchester United academy graduate, Richard Eckersley, has made headlines after trading in his football career to become a zero waste shop opener.
Eckersley, who broke into the Manchester United first team in 2007, retired from the game in December 2015 at 26-years old. During his brief time as a professional, Eckersley was able to play for Burnley, Bradford, Bury, Toronto FC, New York Red Bulls, Swindon and Oldham.
It was Eckersley’s time in North America with Major League Soccer’s Toronto FC and New York Red Bulls that really changed his life. The full-back lived and worked amongst players with a completely different mindset to his former Manchester United teammates.
“It was only when I went to North America and saw how those footballers were living that it changed,” Eckersley told the BBC.
“They were being careful with their money – it didn’t matter what clothes or shoes they wore, and that awakened me.
“I was really annoyed at football when I was in New York and I just started watching lots of documentaries, reading lots of books and it just completely opened my eyes to it all, to be honest.”
Toronto and New York
Eckersley played in MLS from 2012 to 2014. At the beginning, he was a key figure and rising star for Toronto. He played 92 times for the Reds, but unfortunately, it was before the team’s current spell as MLS’s best team.
He moved to New York Red Bulls in 2014, as injury curtailed his time with Toronto, and forced the move. In 2014, the full-back played 17 games for the club before heading back to England. Back home, Eckersley played Oldham before ending his career.
Zero waste shop
After retiring from the game at 26, Eckersley moved his family to Devon, England. There, he opened the country’s first zero waste shop. Eckersley is a world away from football now. However, his story shows that there is more to football players than flashy cars and clothes. It also proves there is life after football.