I'm a former Man City midfielder but I gave it up to be a car salesman… now I'm a qualified counsellor to help others | The Sun

I'm a former Man City midfielder but I gave it up to be a car salesman… now I'm a qualified counsellor to help others | The Sun

March 6, 2023

FORMER Man City midfielder Jeff Whitley made a drastic career change following his own experiences with addiction.

The ex-professional footballer, 44, gave up his sporting career to become a car salesman – and he is now a fully qualified counsellor and psychotherapist.

After ending his playing career in 2010, Whitley worked at a car dealership in Stockport, the Manchester Evening News reported.

Whitley was a salesman at Stockport Car Supermarket.

He said: "I feel I am a good communicator and that's half the battle. I've got the advantage that some people still recognise me from City and that helps break the ice. I'm going to give it my best shot."

Now, he has over 15 years of experience in addiction and relapse prevention and recovery.

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He is registered under the Counselling Directory where his profile explains his background and aims.

As an ex-professional footballer, trying to compete at the highest level on a weekly basis and trying to please others came with its own challenges and problems which I later had to address.

Whitley added: "I have a strong passion for addictions therapy such as alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex, gaming and gambling addictions, as I myself am a recovering addict and have been a member of AA, CA, GA etc for many years."

He is well-equipped with the tools and personal experience to help, as he explains: "I'm able to offer first hand help, guidance and continued support to recovery with a goal to achieve sobriety and abstinence from all addictions as well as relapse prevention."

He also works in Professional Football providing counselling, support, therapy and mentoring.

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He covers a range of issues including anxiety, depression, anger and confidence, particularly among professional footballers.

Discussing his troubled past, Whitley told SunSport in 2020: "I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and thought, ‘I don’t know who that guy is.’ I’d completely lost myself."

He added: “There’s this ripple effect of people who are getting hurt through your actions and they can’t do anything apart from look after themselves. That’s my biggest regret.”

That's not all, though. Whitley's career has been full of fabulous twists and turns.

He even worked as a football coach at a development centre linked with League Two club Morecambe.

The centre started in 2015 at Loreto High School, across the road from Whitley’s old school Oakwood (now Chorlton High).

In December 2018, the ex-Northern Ireland international was hired by the PFA’s Wellbeing team.

They offer free support to footballers past and present on issues ranging from addiction to anxiety, depression and “just feeling a bit low”.

In 2019, he backed The Sun’s End of The Line campaign to help raise awareness of the devastating dangers of cocaine and its impact on mental health.

Whitley explained: “When you’re young and you’ve got a few quid in your pocket, it can be quite exciting and highly addictive.

"But you go from being super confident and chatty to wanting to be on your own in complete isolation.”

Jeff Whitley is part of the PFA’s Wellbeing department which provides support to more than 50,000 members.

They offer a 24/7 helpline, a national network of counsellors, and a residential rehab at Sporting Chance Clinic.

Fellowships, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Cocaine Anonymous (CA), are available as well with 12-step sponsored programme.

The PFA Wellbeing team provide individual action plans for members on issues ranging from anxiety, depression, alcohol, drug use and gambling.

They also go into all 92 clubs to assess players and educate Under-18s, U23s, first-team, women’s teams and staff on the dangers of alcohol and drug use.

Any current and former PFA members can contact the Wellbeing team with emotional issues on its email address: [email protected]

Whitley learnt from his own experiences with drug use.

He shared: “I was in a dark place. I had no excuse not to take it. I didn’t have to go into training, so wouldn’t be drug tested, and I wanted to feel better.

“When I took it, I could stay up longer, drink longer. But if you take enough the buzz eventually goes; the buzz ends up being paranoia."

He added: "The insane paranoia is mind-blowing. Call it curtain-twitching: any siren, any noise, you think they’re after you. It’s a proper frightening place to be."

Whitley has real, lived experience with addiction and drug use.

In 2017, his brother Jack took his own life by taking a concoction of drugs including cocaine.

“I know how difficult it is for family members to reach out and help,” Whitley explains.

But Whitley turned his life around.

While in rehab, Whitley learnt the root of his issue lay with unspoken childhood trauma after having been orphaned at age 12.

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“These things have a huge impact on you,” he said. “You’re looking for father figures and, unfortunately, some of them are really bad role models, flashing the cash and selling drugs.”

Where to go for help


Helpline open 24/7: 0300 123 6600


For help finding a service or to Instant chat

Change, Grow, Live

Help for anyone with drug and alcohol issues.

Dedicated help for people under 25.


Mental health support line: 0300 304 7000


Help, support and advice for those dealing with addiction and their families

Action on Addiction

Rehab and community addiction treatment

0300 330 0659


Helpline open 9am-9pm, 7 days a week

0300 888 3853

Help for families affected by drugs and alcohol

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