Lee Mossop on retirement, highlights - and plans to own chain of coffee shops

He already owns two coffee shops and is planning to open a third within a year.

Monday, 16th August 2021, 8:38 am
Updated Monday, 16th August 2021, 8:40 am
Lee Mossop at The Old Bank in Pemberton

Which, you’d think, would answer the question, ‘What will Lee Mossop do now he’s retired from playing?’

But the former Wigan and Salford prop – forced to hang up his boots on medical grounds – hopes his future remains in rugby league.

“Running the coffee shops is something I absolutely love doing, but I don’t think it could be my full-time future,” he said.

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“I want to keep expanding it but a 9-5 is not what I want to do. There’s something else for me to find.

“Salford are being really good, and saying they will try and find me a role at the club. There are five or six weeks until the end of the season and so I will try a few bits here and there, I’m not sure whether it’s in rugby or not, and then take a few weeks with Chloe and the kids and then make a decision.

“I did a bit of coaching earlier this week, and I would like to stay in the game some how, I don’t know exactly.

“As much as I expected it some day, it’s still a shock, so I want some time off, time to reflect and take stock.

Lee Mossop at The Old Bank in Pemberton

“But it’s been good that I’ve had the coffee shops as well and I’ve got those to concentrate on while I try and figure out what’s next for me.”

Mossop opened the Old Bank in Orrell in 2016 and branched out last year, opening another in Pemberton after plans for a site in Croston were rejected by the local council’s planning committee.

“I got the Pemberton one literally a couple of weeks before Covid hit, so I didn’t have the best of starts with it,” said the 32-year-old. “We planned to take our time with it to be fair but obviously it took much longer than we expected, before the pandemic.

“We’ve been able to open for the last couple of months but the rules that were in place made it hard, in that you have to over-staff every premise for fewer customers, so it’s a double whammy.

The Old Bank in Pemberton

“Now the restrictions have been lifted, hopefully it settles down and people come in and enjoy it.”

The site on Ormskirk Road is, fittingly, situated at a former bank and still features the original vault. It twins as a wine bar, opening late at weekends, and Mossop hopes to open a new coffee shop each year.

“They are quite time consuming and stressful, I don’t want to bite off too much but if I can do one a year, I can hopefully get a good-sized chain,” he said.

He initially hit on the idea of opening a coffee shop when he noticed how Australians favour different, independent coffee shops – rather than High Street chains – during a year living Down Under in 2014.

Lee Mossop says winning the Challenge Cup in 2011 was one of his career highlights

The towering prop had moved to Sydney to play for Parramatta but, like a large part of his career, that adventure was interrupted by shoulder problems.

In total, he had 11 reconstruction operations – a run of bad luck which makes his career statistics, achievements and longevity even more astonishing.

“I’ve got mixed emotions, really,” he said. “I’ve fought tooth and nail to retire on my terms and to get back from op after op.

“But If I’m honest, I’ve known since I was 18 I would have to retire with my right shoulder, and so I’m happy that I’ve last this length of time.

“The last op I had when I was 27, I was told to retire and I managed to get another five years.

“It’s disappointing not to finish the season with Salford or even my contract, because I had next year as well, but I’m very proud of what I’ve done.”

Mossop has every right to feel proud.

He joined Wigan as a schoolboy, making long trips from Cumbria to train in the youth set-up – during which time he was christened ‘Moose’ by then academy-coach Adrian Lam, a nickname which has stuck.

He progressed through the ranks, breaking into the first-team in 2008 and becoming the club’s No.1 prop over the subsequent years.

Asked to pick out his highlights, he said: “The 2011 Challenge Cup was special, because I missed the Grand Final the year before and I remember sitting there in the stands, promising to myself not to miss out again.

“I did my shoulder in that (2011) game but came back on.

“Leading Salford out with my kids in the Grand Final (in 2019), even though we lost, was up there and playing for England in the opening game of the World Cup in 2013, against the Aussies, too.

“That year was probably my best form-wise, we won the double, and I got picked up by an NRL club.”

A season at Parramatta was bookended by shoulder injuries, limiting him to just three NRL matches, before he returned to Wigan for two seasons and then joined Salford.

In total he played 140 matches for the Warriors, winning two Grand Finals and two Challenge Cups.

Fittingly, his final match was against Wigan, at the DW Stadium, a week last Friday.

As he stood in a guard of honour before the game to applaud his former team-mate Dom Manfredi - forced to retire on medical grounds – Mossop knew he, too, would be hanging up his boots that night.

“Basically, I was told the day before the game, that I’d have to retire – but I didn’t tell the lads until after,” he said.

"It didn't really hit me that my last game was against my former club. The funny thing was, because of the Covid rules, we got changed in the dressing rooms under the East Stand – which is where we used to get changed when I started off in the academy, when we trained over there.

“I suppose it’s fitting it finished the way it did.”