JAMES Constable wants to use his experiences to help footballers across the country who find themselves at a crossroads.

The former Oxford United striker, 36, will not return to Banbury United next season and knows it could spell the end of his playing career.

Constable made the decision after recently starting a full-time job, while he is also studying for a UEFA B Licence with a view to one day returning to football as a coach.

But the U’s legend admits it is easy to delay planning for life after leaving the sport and feels those still playing need to be made more aware of their options.

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He said: “I’m passionate about players transitioning out of football and I still think so much more can be done for players leaving the game.

“You think you’ll finish your playing career and go straight into coaching on the same money, but that’s just not the case.

“Having played in non-league and dropped down the levels I was aware of that.”

Constable added: “I know the PFA (Professional Footballers’ Association) do some great work, but I feel it’s very different to getting players coming in and telling their stories.

“I think that side of it does need improving, it’s more reactive rather than looking at how we can make it easier.”

Constable played at a range of levels during his career, from League One to the Southern League, and spent six seasons with United.

The forward left in 2014 as the U’s second-highest goalscorer and has played in non-league ever since.

He was assistant coach to former United teammate Andy Whing alongside his playing duties at Banbury, but felt he could not dedicate enough time to the role alongside his young family and new job.

Constable now has a ‘normal’ job, leaving the house at 7.15am and returning at 5.30pm every day, but it is a reality that seemed a long way away during his playing days.

“I’ve got 30 years until I can think about retiring properly and that’s the same as thousands of players, even as high up as the Championship,” he said.

“There’s life after football and you pick up a lot of skills you can transfer into other jobs.

“But you need to plan, you’re in your own bubble and now I’m on the other side I realise how lucky I was.”

Constable’s time at Banbury was brief, but he still managed to pass on his advice to players making their way in the game.

He said: “It’s a lonely place when you retire – you come out of the group chats and you’re not around those people every day.

“It’s big shock to the system.

“I’ve spoken to young players at Banbury on a one-to-one level.

“I’ve told them don’t make football the be-all and end-all – you can have all your eggs in one basket and get an injury that forces you to retire.

“It’s always important to have that back-up, so if it doesn’t work out you’ve got something to fall back on.”