KONCH CALLS TIME ON HIS LEAGUE CAREER
PAUL KONCHESKY says retiring from professional football has left him feeling emotional – but NonLeague Billericay Town can keep the fire burning.
The 35-year-old has played 29 times for League One Gillingham this season, but found himself out of the team following the arrival of new manager Ady Pennock.
Retirement was always on the cards for this summer, but the former Charlton, West Ham, Fulham, Liverpool and Leicester player won’t be packing it in altogether. He’s signed a deal with ambitious Ryman Premier side Billericay Town, who were recently taken over by millionaire Glenn Tamplin.
“I’ve played professional football for 20 years and trained every day,” Konch- esky said. “To stop suddenly is going to affect me. I’ve had an unbelievable career. The more I think about it the more memories come back. “How can I put it? Is it upsetting? No. I don’t think that’s the word. Emotional? Of course. Today is my last day of professional football. “Do I love football? Of course. Can I just stop? No, that’s why I’m here. If I retire from professional football, what do I do? I can’t just sit at home when an owner invites me to be part of something. It’s a big challenge but it’s something I want to do.”
Konchesky’s career took him to an FA Cup final with West Ham, an incredible run to the Europa League final with Fulham, and he played for England twice against Australia and Argentina. He also helped Leicester City to the Championship title in 2013-14.
Owner of a pie and mash shop, Konch’s Kafe, in Brentwood, he will look to do his coaching badges now he’s playing part-time.
But, when matchday comes, it will be as serious as ever and he’s not fazed by the four-league drop.
“I played here in pre-season, but the sun was shining and it was a bit different!” he smiled. “Listen, it’s four lines, a football pitch with two goals. I know what people are getting at, but I’ve not got a massive ego. I want to play football and I’ve been given a great opportunity.
“I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for me. It’s going to be tough, it’s going to be different but it’s something I look forward to.”
MOVING ON: Paul Konchesky at Gillingham and, inset, at his new club