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Where are they now: Gavin Maguire

18 April 2013

For many, there is no better job than being paid to play the beautiful game - after all, those who are fortunate enough to make it as a pro will tell you, it's not a real job. That comes later in life.

Former Football League player Gavin Maguire appeared in all three divisions during his career and he is now, luckily for him, earning a living doing something else he is passionate about.

The 45-year-old swapped boots for scissors, and owns his own hairdressing salon in Somerset.

"It's not real work," Maguire explained, "you have a nice conversation with customers if they want one, or they can switch off if they prefer that.

"But, at the end of it, they feel good about themselves, just as fans did if they were happy I'd had a good game. It's an immediate feeling of achievement."

After playing much of his football career in London and on the South Coast with Portsmouth, as well as short stints in the North with Newcastle United and, later, Scarborough, Maguire moved to his current South West base for a change of scenery.

The area where he now resides is, arguably, more synonymous with rugby rather than football and the former defender says he doesn't get many customers recognise him, not that he minds.

"Nobody knows me down here and I like that, I don't want to be judged on what I've done in the past.

"It's not a huge football area so nobody really remembers me but, don't forget, it's been a while since I played."

Maguire's transition from dressing room to cutting room didn't happen immediately after he hung up his boots in 1994.

Unsure of what to do next, after retiring from football at the young age of 26, he caught up with old friends and saw a bit of the world before stumbling into a new vocation.

"I did a bit of fitness work and a course through the YMCA, but I couldn't see myself doing that long-term.

"Then, all of a sudden, someone suggested hairdressing. My first reaction was, 'of course not', but I had a friend who had his own salon and he really enjoyed it, so that's the path I took. Luckily it has worked out.

"I went to America for a bit after I stopped playing as I didn't know what to do as a career. I then went to see a friend of mine, Pat van den Hauwe, who was living in South Africa. By the time I got back, I knew I had to sort myself out.

"You go through life have everything done for you; you don't know how to do anything financially. Travelling around I grew up a bit and learned the value of money. When I got back I was old news in football terms but it helped me move on."

Despite spending a relatively short time in the game, Maguire had quite an eventful and interesting career, which he looks back on with fond memories.

He started out as a striker in the mid-80s with non-league Northwood but a change of position brought him to the attention of a scout from Queens Park Rangers.

And things soon took off from there, with Maguire settling well in the top flight after transferring from the Woods.

He even made a handful of appearances on the international stage, earning seven caps for Wales, who he was eligible to play for through his parents.

"It's every little boy's dream to play football so I feel very fortunate to have achieved what I did. I started as a striker but played the game professionally as a defender. It just seemed to click for me when I played at the back.

"Playing for both QPR and Portsmouth was fantastic. I was a Rangers fan, so to play for the team I supported was a dream come true. It's very satisfying to think I was part of one of the club's most successful teams. We finished fifth, which was incredible - a great experience.

"When I left them it was awkward because I didn't really want to leave. In saying that, it was a very easy decision to move to Portsmouth. Jim Gregory, the former QPR chairman, was down there and Alan Ball, who I knew, was manager."

In his words, some of his best playing days were spent with Pompey, as the group of players at the club had good camaraderie off the field.

That atmosphere was also replicated at Millwall, who he played for as they were departing the old Den in the mid-90s.

He admits it's hard keeping up with his former team-mates these days but when they do meet up it feels like they never left the dressing room.

"My generation will be the last one to worry about what to do at the end of their careers. I don't think current players will have that problem.

"We [he and his ex-team-mates] are all doing totally different things now, work-wise, and that prevents us from seeing each other as much as we'd like.

"But it's good to catch up, whether it's a charity thing or even a funeral, the camaraderie still remains."

For Maguire, the memories will remain forever, but for now he's continuing to attack his latest venture with the same enthusiasm that he took to the football field.

He doesn't know any other way.

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