Premier League exclusive: The Champions League winner already planning for life after football

Connor Armstrong

​Ryan Bertrand has arguably been the stand-out left-back in the Premier League this season, with a series of commanding performances that have put the Saints to within two points of a European spot. 

The former Chelsea man is expected to feature in Roy Hodgson's England squad for Euro 2016. 

England defender Ryan Bertrand already has one eye on life after football, after launching his second business venture in six months.

Following the launch of Silicon Markets - a FinTech brokerage - in October 2015, the Champions League winning left-back launched ‘FootiEmoji’ at an event in Covent Garden last week.

The FootiEmoji app is a specially tailored range of emojis and images for use on social media.

Images and emojis are then instantly available and embedded into the keyboard for use on various platforms, including Twitter, Facebook messenger, Snapchat, WhatsApp and many others.

The app currently features detailed and personalised emojis for 35 top European clubs, which can be downloaded to the users phone and used in a matter of seconds.

Bertrand, 26, has launched the social media app alongside Southampton teammate José Fonte and Chelsea captain John Terry, and spoke about the concept at last Wednesday’s official launch.

“I’m lucky, I’ve got another company, a FinTech company, and that houses loads of developers, and graphic designers in-house,” Bertrand said, speaking exclusively to Yahoo Sport's Connor Armstrong.

“So when it came to my head, I was aware that there was nothing like this on the market so far and I was also aware that it was doable and that I had the resources already.

Ryan Betrand has launched Footiemoji

“I just feel that with football fans being so passionate they can really get to grips with it and really have fun.”

The Southwark-born defender readily admits that he’s already beginning to focus on his plans after retirement and express his fears that far too many professionals leave the game behind without any clear direction in their life.

“It’s not the smartest idea to get to the end of your career and think: ‘Actually, what do I do now?’”

“Me personally, I have a very entrepreneurial mindset. Ask my family, friends and people who know me. I’m coming up with ideas and innovations every other day.

“There’s also that fine line where you don’t want to let it interrupt your football, but you need to be aware that there is going to be a life after football.

“We all have ambitions and I’ve chosen to pick something within the finance and tech industry, which is something that I really have a passion for.”

In recent days, former West Ham and Australia defender Lucas Neill was declared bankrupt. That news follows the well-publicised bankruptcy of former England goalkeeper David James in 2014.

Bertrand, however, is determined to avoid similar pitfalls after retirement and urged his fellow professionals to make sure that they realise there is a life beyond football.

Ryan Bertrand helped Chelsea win the 2012 Champions League Final

“You hear some real horror stories and it’s about anticipating that one day, the lights will stop shining so bright on you,” Bertrand added.

“But that’s not the end of life or anything, not by a long shot. It’s about anticipating that and staying ahead of the curve.”

Although the former Gillingham man is keen to stay ahead of the curve, he readily admits that at current he is holding back on one front.

Bertrand revealed he has routinely used the Southampton dressing room as a place to pitch ideas and consult teammates over possible ventures, however, one man remains in the dark about FootiEmoji.

That man is Southampton boss Ronald Koeman, with Bertrand admitting that while his teammates have enjoyed seeing their emojis already, his boss remains unaware... for now.

“I’m trying to keep his one a bit quiet to be honest! We had a long trip back on the coach the other day and did a reveal with everybody and it went down well, to be honest.

“I’ve had a few recommendations for a bit of botox here and there though…!”

Ryan Bertrand was speaking at the launch of FootiEmoji, a social media app with a vast range of emojis and images tailored to football fans across the world.

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