Racism & retirement: Former pro footballer founds club to tackle pitfalls of the game

By Mark Stillman
February 6 2020, 13.25

Former professional footballer Marvin Morgan hopes his new club can educate others in the sport.

Fresh Ego FC played their first match at Rayners Lane in Harrow last month, and are in the process of organising another for Sunday February 16.

The club’s aim is to tackle mental health, racism and life after football, with Morgan calling upon fellow footballers and musicians, like Myles from hip-hop group Rak-Su, to take part in his team.

Mr Morgan, who named the club after the fashion label he founded in 2011, admitted: “When I started the clothing brand, my football career went down.

“No manager, chairman or directors took me seriously because they thought I was only focusing on my business.

“I wasn’t Wayne Rooney. I was playing League One/League Two football. The perception of being a professional footballer is different to what you think it’s going to be at that level.

“Everyone laughed at me when I said I wanted to start a clothing brand, but it’s gone on from strength to strength. It pays my wages.

“If I didn’t do the brand I’d have no idea what I’d be doing now.”

Morgan said that 6% of footballers go bankrupt having played regularly in the Premier League for around five years, and  listed gambling, alcoholism and drugs as the main pitfalls.

Because of this, the former Aldershot and Shrewsbury striker has visited clubs to warn them of potential dangers.

He said: “Chris McGready, who I used to play against for Aldershot, invited me up to talk to the kids at Man United last summer

“I went up with my business partner John Ruben and asked them what they want out of life. What are their hobbies? They need to focus on that as well as focusing on football.”

He added: “Arsenal and Chelsea under 19s came to our office in Stanmore. We put on workshops. I tell them a bit about my story and my passion for fashion. I’m always here. I’ll talk to anybody.

“We’ve also been talking to the PFA about life after football. Us as a brand want to make sure we start the life after football trail.

“I always say to people – don’t chase money. Chase success. If you’re successful, money will come.”

One of their future matches will tackle racism in football, following regular incidents this season where several players have been abused at matches or on social media.

Mr Morgan admits he was racially abused in his early days as a Football League player.

He said: “No-one is born a racist. You’re taught how to be a racist.

“It’s going to take a long, long time to educate people, but building a better community helps raise awareness.”

The team’s profile has increased following Morgan’s appearances on Sky Sports News, TalkSport and ITV London.

He believes he has the right people involved to build the club’s awareness, like the success of his brand, which his good friend Anthony Joshua has endorsed in the past, with Leicester and England midfielder James Maddison recently promoting Fresh Ego’s clothing.

He said: “To get any brands off the floor you need help. Marlon Harewood is trying to get a load of ex-Premier League players to come along for a game. That’s what people want to see.

“If Anthony Joshua wasn’t such a superstar he’d play as well. Kieran Trippier has been in touch, he gave me stick for missing a penalty in our first game.

“Our coverage has gone mental, I’m glad I’ve got my best mate Ben Alexander and Joel Mannix to help run it. We’ve got everyone who we want involved. People have offered their services for free.

“It’s a great cause and we want to build good content for it for future games.”

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