“My name is John Andrew O’Kane, I played football for the biggest club in the world but you probably don’t remember me. I’ve shared a pitch with legends like Peter Schmeichel, Roy Keane and Eric Cantona. I’ve received the hairdryer treatment from Fergie and partied with the likes of Ryan Giggs and Lee Sharpe. I’ve roomed with David Beckham and knew him inside out. We did everything together. I then watched as he went on to another level entirely when his career took off whilst my own took me in a completely different direction.”
In the same summer that his erstwhile roommate became Real Madrid’s latest galactico, John retired from football at just 29 due to his mental health and diminished appetite for the game, an age when defenders are usually reaching their peak. In truth, he had never been truly satisfied with his career in the game because his autism and naturally questioning nature led to clashes with authority, a cardinal sin in the strict world of the game back then.
Back in the real world John moved into ‘normal’ jobs as a roofer’s mate and a labourer before finally taking on a job as a teaching mentor to vulnerable kids. Almost overnight he’d gone from living the dream to dealing with nightmare problems and horrific life stories, yet John describes this as ‘The Best Job in the World’.
In this searingly honest account of life inside the football bubble, John reveals the real world of football beyond the glitz and glamour and the price to be paid for anyone with a mind of their own.