New career for City star

Former Canary Paul McVeigh tells EMMA LEE about life away from Carrow Road and his new career as a motivational speaker.

If you'd just retired after 16 years as a professional footballer you'd be entitled to kick back, relax and take some time out while you ponder your next move.

But just months after leaving Carrow Road Paul McVeigh has thrown himself into a whole new career. He's moving into motivational training – and his enthusiasm is infectious.

He's teamed up with Tosin Ogunnusi and Louise Harris of Norwich-based Think! Training and Consultancy, which provides development courses for businesses, teams and individuals, and has qualified as a practitioner in Neuro Linguistic Programming.

NLP works on the theory that often what stops people achieving their goals is themselves and that changing the way you see the world – to put a positive spin on it, if you like – can make a huge difference to the way you live your life.

As he explains his new career choice, it seems like a natural progression from life as a professional sportsman. Belfast-born Paul's football career began with Tottenham Hotspur. In 2000 he joined Norwich City where between then and 2007 he scored 40 goals. He had spells with Burnley and Luton Town and then returned to Carrow Road for his final season. He also made 20 appearances for Northern Ireland.

A popular team member – he had a fan chant in his honour, to the tune of Can't Take My Eyes Off You – he was known as a skilful attacking player.

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But there comes a time in every footballer's career when he has to consider other options.

'At the end of last season I thought 'do I want to carry on playing or try something different?',' he says. 'Initially I wanted to try to play, but then I was weighing up the options and it was a fairly easy decision in the end. I had my time in football, and I loved it, but I wanted to move on,' he says.

A colleague who he had worked with during his football career suggested that he would make a good motivational speaker – and meeting him in person you have to agree. He's friendly and connects with people easily.

'I'm 32, I only had another year or two of playing, and this could be something that I could be doing for the next 30 or 40 years. It completely shifted my thinking and I thought this could be a really good option for me. NLP is something I first came across in football years ago,' he says.

Paul instantly strikes you as incredibly focused and passionate about his subject. He's certainly jumped into his new career with both feet, including attending international conferences on the subject in America and the Ukraine.

'The last three months have been the biggest learning curve for me,' he says. 'I've totally immersed myself in it.

I loved what I did for 16 years, I've closed that chapter and I'm moving on. For me it's been very smooth. I've been fortunate, people have approached me. I stopped playing football and went straight in to this. Everyone needs a purpose for getting up in the morning.

'My brain is in overdrive taking in all these new experiences. I love it.'

One of the really impressive things about Paul is his enthusiasm for NLP and how keen he is to explore the deeper psychology behind it.

And he obviously thrives on learning – during his football career away from the pitch ('You don't work long hours because you can't do it for eight hours a day. It's intense,' he explains) he learned to play the piano and the guitar and to speak Italian in his spare time.

'I think because the expectation of a footballer is not great I've been on the receiving end of assumptions so many times. People say 'you're clever' because you read a book. And it's not a compliment,' he says.

'The more you learn the more you realise you don't know,' he says, adding that one question that is currently keeping his mind occupied is the link between happiness and material wealth.

'How come people come from positions of privilege and throw it away? Success depends on how people choose to be successful – is it having a nice car?' he ponders. 'A change in perspective can empower you.

'I like to have balance in my life – that's when I know I'm being successful. Some people want to have a good job but don't have time for holidays.'

Paul's diary is already filling up – he and Tosin Ogunnusi will be holding a motivational seminar called Breakthrough to Personal Success in Norwich on December 18.

Paul says that he feels settled in Norwich and plans to stay in the city.

'My fiancee is from Norwich, she works at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital and we're getting married next year. My brother has been living in Norwich since I signed as well so there's so many connections here,' he says.

For more information about Think Training and Consultancy, including Tosin Ogunnusi and Paul McVeigh's event in Norwich on December 18, phone 08450 170 775 or visit