Hanging Up Your Boots | Matt Jarvis

Former Wolves and England winger Matt Jarvis talks about life after football once he had hung up his boots.

How did you feel after retiring?

I got to a point with my body where I knew it was just the right time for me. I’d just finished a season at Woking, I’d been furloughed at the end of the season because it was that weird Covid year, and it just felt that it was the right time. I’d have loved to be able to still play now, but my body wouldn’t let me anymore. It was the perfect time for me to call it a day. It was never an easy decision, and it’s one that you never think is going to happen as you always feel you can play on forever, but Covid – in a weird way – helped me make that decision and made it easier to do.

Did it take time for your life to adjust?

It was hard, but it’s like being in the military, you’ve been told what to do, where to be, what to bring for 20 years, you just become accustomed to that role, so to have no routine or structure to your day is quite a transition. Even just being at home with the family, I’d been living away from home for six out of seven days, so to go from full-time training and playing games to doing nothing at home 24/7, that was a difficult transition.

How did you replace football in your life?

I still love the gym, I love the training, so would go and train most days – not in the same way as when I was playing – but I was also one of those footballers who didn’t play golf when I was playing, so now I’m starting to try and play golf, but I really enjoy doing the media and the punditry. That was something that I started to do before I retired and it was something I wanted to continue to do. Football is something I have always done and it’s a passion, I’ve loves being involved in football and would be watching games even if I wasn’t talking about football, but if I’m able to do that as a job as well, it’s a win-win.

What did you miss most about football?

There are so many things. I know some players who don’t miss it at all, but I’m the opposite, I loved everything about it. If I’m at a match and go down pitchside, then playing in games and being on the pitch is something you massively miss. Being in and around a training ground is something where there’s nothing like it anywhere else, so that is something you massively miss.

What are the parts of football you don’t miss?

Travelling is something that I don’t miss as much and I don’t miss being away from my family, but there is also pre-season, which I didn’t mind as much as some of the others. There are sacrifices you make to play the sport you love, as you miss loved ones’ birthdays, weddings, Christmases, there’s all sorts of things you miss, but having Christmas at home in the last few years has been quite nice.

Do you still watch and follow football?

Absolutely. Having played at clubs across the pyramid, and for work purposes when it comes to commentary and punditry, I do have to try and keep up with everything, not just the Premier League. I watch the Championship, League One, League Two, National League, but I do religiously follow every club that I’ve played for, not just Wolves and West Ham, but I still follow Gillingham, I still follow Norwich, Walsall and Woking. I really enjoy watching football and I still want to be involved in the game, even if it’s not at a playing level anymore.

Do you still catch up with your teammates?

I do, but probably not quite as much as I would like. I remember when I was in the youth team that a couple of the senior pros would say to me that you’d only really stay friends with one or two players at each club, and I thought that was rubbish as we all got on so well, but it is actually really difficult to stay in touch with everyone. I still speak to a lot of the lads and still meet up with Dave Edwards quite a bit, but we’re hoping to have a little reunion in June or July with everyone, so that will be something that I’m looking forwards to. At Wolves, we had a great group of lads and at Dave Edwards’ testimonial last year at Shrewsbury, that was the last time we’d all got together, and it was so nice to all be back together.

If you could play again now, would you?

That’s a difficult question. You always wish you could play and keep playing, especially now in the current circumstances with the Premier League, but I loved my journey. I got released at 16, went to Gillingham and played in the first-team at 17, then went to Wolves, won the Championship, played for England, went to West Ham, club record signing, played in the Premier League, went to Norwich, played in the Premier League, had tremendous injuries, overcame those and played at Woking and then retired. I think my journey is pretty cool and I wouldn’t want to change any of it. Everything happens for a reason, so I’m more than happy with the way it went.

What do you hope you’re remembered for at Wolves?

I hope I’ll be remembered as an exciting winger who produced as much as he could and gave everything for the club, as someone who never turned down the opportunity to take someone on and getting a shot or a cross off, and hopefully as a fans’ favourite.

This article originally featured in Wolves' official 2023/24 matchday programme. Last season's programmes are still available to purchase online through retailers Curtis Sports

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