Wigan Athletic old boy opens up on post-retirement struggle
Former Wigan Athletic star Shaun MacDonald has opened up on the difficulty he's found adjusting to life after football.
The 34-year-old called time on his playing career at the beginning of last season, just weeks after signing a two-year deal with Crewe.
He had been living away from his family - wife Jordan and young children Ruby and Jenson - to make the move work, but found the effect on his family life was too much to bear.
MacDonald is now back near his Swansea roots, and reflecting on a decision he was forced to make some time before he’d planned.
“You’re never really ready to retire," said the former Wales international, who spent three years with Latics between 2016-19.
“It got to a stage for me where I was living away, I had the two kids and I was still commuting from where we were actually living in our house.
“So the wife was on her own with the two little ones and she had good friends there but no real family support network.
“Being completely honest, I wasn’t really fully enjoying it, the football side of it.
"So you put two and two together and as a family we thought it was the right time really.
“I was 33, and whether I’d make it to 34, 35, 36, it just felt like the right time really for me.”
MacDonald still finds his football fix by turning out part-time for Penybont in the Welsh Premier League.
“If I’m being completely honest, I wasn’t 100 per cent sure I even wanted to stay part-time,” he said.
"So I had a little six-month break to have a good think on things.
“The most important thing for me was being near home and not having to commute too far and it being too full on.
“I still feel fit, I still felt I had something to give and I think it would’ve been a little bit of a disappointment really if I didn’t carry on.
“Again, put two and two together and it’s 25 minutes away from where we live, we train twice a week, play on a weekend, so that suited me fine.
“It was probably the best decision I made, because I found my love and enjoyment of football again.”
MacDonald believes more should be done to help players bridge the gap between playing and retirement.
“A lot of people have this perception that every footballer is a millionaire," he told the Daily Echo. "It’s not true.
“I think it’s beneficial to players, especially in the bottom half of the Championship downwards in the Football League, to have something academic or outside of football.
“I think it’s only a good thing if people can have an idea in terms of what they want to do next.
“I’m a prime example of that. I’ve been retired for over a year and I’m still kind of working out what I want to do next.
“I am still in that period of transition of working out what I really want to do next, which is difficult.
“I think a lot more can be done for players coming out of that transitional period.”