RETIREMENT can be a difficult time for professional footballers, not least when it happens suddenly.

Christian Ribeiro was 27 when he was told the knee injury which had dogged him for nearly a decade was too serious to keep playing on.

Oxford United were his final club, but while it was a painful time in every sense, fortunately he had a back-up plan.

“When I was playing over the years I was investing in property on the side, because my knee was damaged from the age of 18,” he said.

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“I thought I’d be a Premier League player and unfortunately I couldn’t quite achieve that, but I managed to play for ten years on a damaged knee.

“In that time I managed to earn decent money and I was investing in property.

“At the end when I was forced to retire I didn’t get an insurance pay-out, nobody really looked after me, so it was the property that saved me really.”

Now Ribeiro is looking to help other players avoid the situation.

He set up Property Performance Group with Jay Puddy, who he met on a course.

The firm looks to help players invest in bricks and mortar to build a portfolio which can support them when their career ends.

Ribeiro said: “We’re coming up to two years in now and we’re doing a lot of projects for a lot of players.

“It’s been going really well.

“It’s another way of financial planning, we buy a lot of tired stock, do lovely refurbishments to add as much value as we can.

“It softens the blow and hopefully maintains their lifestyle over the long term.

“It’s the ones that drop off a financial cliff that get into real trouble, unfortunately.”

They mainly cater for players in the Premier League and Championship, with former U’s loanee George Baldock among the clients.

Oxford Mail:

  • Christian Ribeiro and business partner Jay Puddy on Homes Under The Hammer   Picture: Instagram @chrismribeiro_

And they have also been helped with some exposure after one of their renovation projects was featured in the BBC daytime television programme ‘Homes Under The Hammer’.

While the business helped the former Wales international financially, it has also given an outlet for the energy he had been putting into football.

“I thought ‘I’m going to direct my effort and ambition into something else’,” he said.

“I’ve really loved helping the players, but also driving myself to work hard and build something.

“A lot of sportsmen have that in them.

“They’re so used to being disciplined and working towards something.

“It’s hard to turn that off. In the first few weeks after I retired you think it’s nice to have a bit of a break but after a while it’s horrible.

“You need a purpose and that’s what it’s given me.”