The triumphs and challenges of building a professional football career

Karl Sheppard

Our guest today has a footballing life story that may be familiar in some senses and unique in others. His passage through the various tiers of the UK footballing world can tell us a lot about the pressures and dynamics on players during their short sporting career.

He has tasted ambition, excitement, dejection and success across both sides of the Irish Sea. This wide range of experience has left him with great insight into the beautiful game and in high performance, with some wisdom on the trials and tribulations of professional sport.

Joining us today is League of Ireland and Football Association of Ireland Cup Winner, Europa League goalscorer – and now gracefully retired footballer – Karl Sheppard.

Tune as we reflect over his sporting career, and discuss dealing with homesickness, working with great managers, transitioning into retirement and dealing with team tensions.


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6:09 Growing up playing football in Portmarnock

8:34 Getting scouted

10:55 Being a striker

13:20 The greatest challenges for Karl when moving to the UK

20:31 What young players need in a coach

25:15 Large-club academies far away from home versus small-club academies nearby: which is most important for developing young players?

31:15 Transitioning back to Ireland

32:50 The impact of cash flow problems on players

37:10 Playing for Shamrock Rovers when they were the first side to qualify for the Europa League

47:30 Becoming accustomed to Premier League money

52:05 Playing with household names

56:02 Moving back to Ireland after Reading and Accrington

59:52 The level of training and high performance compared to a leading English club at that time

1:02:21 Big influences from the Cork team

1:10:22 John Caufield leaving the club in 2019

1:12:53 Karl’s experience of retiring from his career because of the arthritis diagnosis

1:16:38 Transitioning into retirement from an elite career

1:23:18 Lessons Karl takes from the sporting world into the business world