Life Goals: A day in the life of former Premier League goalkeeper Richard Lee. A few weeks after the release of his self-explanatorily titled book, So You Want To Become A Professional Footballer?, the former world class footballer turned academic and entrepreneur Richard Lee opens up to The Bridge Magazine.
The English public and fans from around the world have always been embarrassed about having only ever won the World Cup once, way back in 1966, in spite of having invented the sport.
But now ex-Premier League goalkeeper Richard Lee aims to bring football glory back to England by securing the world’s best young players at GK Icon global coaching academy.
Lee, the GK Icon founder and owner, summarises his global coaching academy ethos as follows:
“Fancy being England’s next No1? GK Icon will take you to the next level. Backed by a wealth of vastly experienced ex-professionals, GK Icon is a global coaching academy providing youngsters with all the tools required to develop their goalkeeping game.”
We all have our differences. However we can all agree that nothing has ever brought nations together like football.
GK Icon is to become one of the world’s most powerful brands in football academy history.
With a proven track record of developing goalkeepers for the professional game, GK Icon runs several different programs for boys and girls from all ethnic backgrounds, aged 8 to 18. Aspiring Stoppers are highly trained in first-class facilities through innovative sessions.
Premier League football is a highly competitive world, but Adam Woodage and Richard Lee are making it accessible with their new book. The book provides aspiring professional footballers and parents with essential tips: the ultimate pedagogic football book, unique in its genre, it aims at mapping out every would be professional footballer’s path.
- Richard Lee, the man
Powerful, tall, elegant, demure, likeable, Lee is a former premier league goalkeeper turned academic, entrepreneur (GK Icon, Refuel Performance Management, Tetrabrazil), writer and speaker.
Behind Lee’s well-groomed beard, thick eyebrows and piercing eyes is the focused mind of a sharp executive with a strong sense of entrepreneurialism.
The ex-AGS student used to play for Bedgrove Dynamos in the town. He also represented the Hornets, Brentford, and England Under 20s during his career.
The Oxford-born 35 year old was forced to retire sooner than planned after a shoulder injury.
Lee has managed throughout his hard work and self-discipline to reach the highest rank of English football. He established himself as Brentford’s number one shortly after joining from Watford. His premier league career has thrust him into a world-class limelight.
On March 1st 2018, Lee gave us the opportunity to share some personal, professional and business aspects of his life, away from his office.
He appears to be joyful and calm person, his deep-throated voice evokes a sense of gravitas, which inspires trust. He has great social skills and an incredible ability at making you feel welcome in his world.
Feel free to follow the interview below to learn more about Richard Lee.
The Bridge Magazine: First of all Richard, many thanks for making yourself available to talk to The Bridge Magazine.
1) To paraphrase you, So You Want To Become A Professional Footballer? grants an insights and self-help strategies which are a must-read for young footballers. Can you tell us a bit more about the book? What makes it stand out?
I’m of the belief that we are born with certain natural advantages but it’s amazing what can be achieved with focused, hard work and world class coaching. This book is aimed at teenagers and parents as a guide to help them maximise what it is they can offer.
2) Are there misconceptions that people have about your book? If so, explain.
No, I’ve been pleased with the feedback so far. As explained in the title it is very much a guide as to what steps you can take to give yourself the best chance of realising a dream of becoming a Pro Footballer.
3) What was it like for you growing up? When did you start to play football and at what time did you find out that you had goalkeeper skills?
I fell in love with the game at a young age. My Dad bought me a Man Utd shirt and I soon found myself idolising the players, specifically the Goalkeeper, Peter Schmeichel. I would watch him and look to copy his technique. My next door neighbour was also a keen footballer so we’d find ourselves in the back garden with him firing balls at me on a daily basis. Without even realising it this was when I began to improve many of the key techniques.
4) As an entrepreneur, your schedule must be very busy. How do you juggle between GK Icon, Refuel Performance, Tetrabrazil businesses and your social life? What is your typical day?
I’m very lucky that I have some excellent people around me. I have several business partners who focus on each brand so my role can be one that helps guide. I have huge belief in each project and excellent people driving each one. Its’ the perfect combination.
GK Icon – A Goalkeeper Coaching business. We have 100+ franchisees worldwide who offer high calibre Goalkeeper Training.
TetraBrazil – A skills based outfield brand. We blend futsal and conventional football to help youngster hone their technique.
Refuel Performance – A sports agency. We have 50+ players in the Premier League, Championship and League One that we represent, looking to both mentor and negotiate the very best deals for each of our clients.
5) What do you have for breakfast? / lunch?
Breakfast – A protein shake which includes granola and a banana (After my workout)
Lunch – I consume my Carbs between 11am-2pm. Minimal Carbs thereafter.
6) As a goalkeeper, you were most known to be the “best in your class” by fans and your peers. Often described as agile and able to read people’s minds from afar. What is the secret of your power, strength and coordination?
I watched loads of football as a kid and you begin to see ‘patterns’. You’re soon able to predict outcomes, coupled with hard work and certain ‘natural attributes’ I soon found that I had a good basis to become a worthwhile Goalkeeper.
7) Is there any particular influence in your life?
My Dad. I wanted to make him proud and I look up to him.
8) Do you have any advice to give to would be goalkeepers / footballers who aspire to a world-class career?
Enjoyment and application. Providing you enjoy what you do then the training you do will never be perceived as ‘work’. Love what you do and push yourself. Also – Be careful what advice you take on board.
9) Any examples of a player(s) from GK Icon who has already been signed to a premier league club?
Yes – we’ve had 4 go Pro Worldwide now. One I’ll mention is a young Pro at Huddersfield called Luke Mewitt. He was with us for 6 years before signing for the Premier League club. We’re very proud of him.
10) Was there a stage in your football career when you thought that goalkeeping wasn’t for you anymore? If so, how did you deal with it?
Yes – when I was 14 I struggled with the criticism that every footballer receives. I was lacking self belief and was very close to quitting. My Dad convinced me not too. Things turned round and I invested a lot of time studying the mind in order to make sense of my feelings. The work I did on the mind (Via NLP and similar learnings) has had a big impact on other areas of my life too.
11) What makes you laugh?
Certain close friends. I value my close friends very highly.
12) The debate of goalkeeping being an easy career is often a controversial one; do you think being a modern day professional footballer/goalkeeper is easy?
You don’t have to run, so it isn’t difficult aerobically but anaerobically it is very tough. You share similarities with a weight lifter in that you need explosive power. So you’ll often find that many goalkeepers pick up many injuries. I certainly had my fair share from the amount of time you spend in the gym.
13)Would you consider your career incomplete if you’ve not been in the winning team in the World Cup? Why or why not?
I was pleased with my career but I didn’t hit the heights that I wanted to hit. I have no regrets as I do believe in the quote ‘aim for the moon and miss, you’ll become one of the stars’. I played in the Premier League which is something that can’t be taken away.
14) What is your favourite colour?
Green (Goalkeeper’s favourite colour ordinarily apparently).
15) What are top goalkeepers’ innate attributes and why?
Power, athleticism, agility, flexibility, mental awareness. Possess these and you can work on much of what you need to attain.
16) What saddens you?
The idea of being ‘average’.
17) Did you ever prepare for a Plan B if your football career didn’t bear fruit?
Yes – hence why I set up the various business pursuits. I was very aware that a footballers career is very short.
18) How did you cope with/overcome any setbacks you’ve faced during your career?
The reading and qualifications I did on mindset really helped me. I had many injuries, some quite serious and it was essential that I was able to ‘reframe’ my mindset very quickly and focus on what positives there may be from this situation.
19) Are you involved in any philanthropic projects?
I give to certain charities but no, not yet. This is on my ‘goals’ list. I have certain ideas for what I’d love to be in a position to do.
20) What other sport(s) do you enjoy? Do you do any other leisure activities apart from sport?
Golf and Tennis. I enjoy spending time with friends and love the sun!
21) If you weren’t a football player, what profession would you have gone into?
Golf. I was very good as a kid and had a choice. To be honest there was only ever going to be one winner.
22) What would you consider to be your highs and lows within your goalkeeping career so far?
Highs – playing at Old Trafford against Man Utd and the Semi Final of the FA Cup.
Lows – Various injuries and a costly error that meant we didn’t gain promotion.
23) What was the greatest victory you’ve been a part of in your career?
Beating Everton whilst with Brentford. They were 2 leagues above us and I was able to play the game of my life and help us win on penalties.
24) Do you have any spiritual beliefs?
Yes, I’m becoming more and more spiritual as I get older.
25) What is your philosophy about politics and business?
I’m not overly clued up about politics but do have my beliefs on business. I don’t like to let people down0 which means I wouldn’t consider myself a ruthless businessman. I will always aim for win/win situations.
Thank you Richard Lee for speaking to us at The Bridge Magazine.