IT was my birthday yesterday and I turned the grand old age of 39.

They say you’re only as young as the lady you’re with, well my missus turned the same age a month before me, so no advantage there.

I am happy as I enter a new chapter of life.

It’s also been just over a year since I announced in the Oxford Mail I was hanging up my boots and calling time on my 20-year career.

I am still very happy with my decision to retire and have no regrets about it.

I don’t watch football games envying those that are out there.

It’s all about my next phase in life. I am not trying to find something that will give me the same feeling football gave me.

The feeling that football gave me was unique and totally irreplaceable, so I don’t even look for something to replicate it.

In my post-football life I have found something I like doing – working in the media on TV, radio, journalism and now I am entering the world of motivational speaking.

I do bring the confidence from my football career with me to my new career and truly believe I have a lot to offer.

But if I were to describe my first year of retirement in a single word it would be ‘frustrating’.

Things haven’t exactly happened at the pace I have wanted and I don’t find myself where I had hoped I would be a year down the line.

I am not saying I am not getting any work, I just want to be busy, busy, busy.

It reminds me of when I started my first career, as a 17-year-old professional at Chelsea.

I felt frustrated back then at the lack of opportunities I was getting, looking at what was around or ahead of me.

I was a confident teenager. I knew my strengths and believed in my ability and at 39 I have the same thought process as I apply it to my new career.

Talking of confident young pros, Saturday gave me a chance to see one I’ve been keen to see play for ages.

Oxford United’s Callum O’Dowda (pictured) has come through the youth ranks to become a first-team starter.

When I was at the club, he was a hungry academy player who wanted nothing more than to be in the first team.

I would go as far to say he had the best attitude around the training ground, on and off the pitch.

And that includes the first-team squad.

He would be one of the first players on the pitch practising and one of the last off it, even with his duties to do around the club.

Never shy to ask advice or too proud to take criticism on board, he was a very grounded and humble kid.

Just like all young players or anyone with hunger and desire, his Achilles heel was frustration.

From what I have heard and from what I saw on Saturday, his hard work is paying off, although obviously the game did not go to plan.

I hope he carries on his great work ethic and isn’t settling for what he has now. I would love to see him get even better and help change the fortunes of Oxford United.

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