Kem Izzet: Why I’ve signed for Needham market

Kem Izzet

Kem Izzet - Credit: Andrew Partridge

New Needham Market signing Kem Izzet hopes to give management a go one day – but first he knows he needs to provide some stability for his family.

The 32-year-old made over 450 appearances for Colchester United during a 12-and-a-half year period, playing in both the Championship and League One.

A model professional who always worked his socks off on the pitch and showed loyalty and leadership off it, his career – unlike some flash-in-the-pan Premier League players – has not set him up for life.

And that left the all-action midfielder with a big decision to make when he came to a financial settlement over the remainder of his U’s contract last week.

Should he try and eke out his professional playing career elsewhere? Should he try and go straight into management? The first seemed like too much of a short-term fix, while the latter appeared far too risky.

And then Mark Morsley – financial advisor and manager of ambitious Suffolk non-league club Needham Market – gave him a call.

“I’ve always been a footballer and have known very little else so I knew I wanted to stay in the game,” said Izzet. “But I also knew I had to think about my long-term future as well as the short-term.

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“I’ve got a young family, a newborn arriving in January, and I had to think about providing for them.

“There was a bit of interest from Exeter (League Two) and if I’d have waited then maybe there would have been some offers (from Football League clubs), but it’s difficult for lower league footballers at the moment. There are a lot of out-of-contract players looking for work because the money is just not there at the moment.

“I’ve nearly finished my UEFA B coaching badge and would like to be a manager one day, but management jobs are hard to come by and everyone knows that it’s a cut-throat industry. Football managers are there one minute and gone the next.”

Instead, Morsley will help Izzet set-up his own soccer school business, provide him with the chance to coach alongside Kevin Horlock at Needham’s academy and enable him to carry on enjoying playing at an ambitious Step Four non-league side.

“This is a way of me giving something back to the game while also earning a living at the same time,” said Izzet.

“It’s not a decision I’ve taken lightly; I spoke to my family, my brother (ex Leicester and Turkey player Muzzy) and my wife and we all decided this was the best long-term decision.

“It’s going to be weird not going into training and being around the lads every day, but there is no point dragging out my career for another two years and still being in an uncertain position.

“The financial package that I have agreed with Colchester gives me 10 months to get my business up and running.

“The plan is to provide hourly sessions for local teams, go into schools and provide coaching sessions and use my contacts in the professional game to get trials for some of the best young kids.

“It’s a real lifestyle change for me, but I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

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