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Danny Simpson speaks on latest club exit, mental struggles and life as a free agent

Danny Simpson speaks on his latest club exit, having mental struggles and life as a free agent after a career in the top flight.

The 35-year-old right back has stated that he quit Championship outfit Bristol City because of frustration over a lack of first-team chances.

Simpson left the Robins in March “by mutual consent”, three months prior to the expiration of his second year contract.

Nigel Pearson had signed him 12 months before that. He was originally brought to the club as part-player/part-first-team mentor, but he never made a lasting impact on the starting XI.

It had been five months since Simpson’s last game at Bristol City, a 3-0 defeat at West Brom. Simpson left City on Sunday. In an interview with Manchester Evening News, Simpson discussed the challenges and obstacles that out-of-work professionals face.

“You get to a point when you’re 34 or 35 and you want to play. It doesn’t matter who are you, look at Ronaldo now, he’s 37,” Simpson told the MEN. “Some people are happy sitting on the bench at a club and some people aren’t and that’s me.

“Nigel is a top man and it just didn’t work. It’s difficult because I know I can still play, I haven’t actually retired. I’ll know when the time is right, but I’ll give it to January and make the right calls. You can’t just sit around waiting forever.”

Simpson was taken up by City after being without a club for nine months. He had been training alone and with Leicester City. Now he’s trying to keep his self-motivation and find a new job.

While he continues to train alone, he also tries to gain media experience with work for Premier League Productions (PLP) and talkSPORT. However, he has expressed concern about the lack of support networks, whether from former clubs or various governing bodies.

“It’s hard, but even more so when you have a week off and you don’t do it,” Simpson added. “I’ve been to the gym this morning and I know I’ll feel ready to attack the day after the session, but then when you’re on your own, it’s very difficult.

“I saw all my friends go back to their clubs in the summer and it affects you mentally. When you see them back in training, I didn’t even want to go on my Instagram because I was sick and tired. I know it sounds bad but I couldn’t like their pictures.

“I was struggling mentally and there wasn’t much help. I was lucky because eventually I grew a pair of balls and rang Leicester and I asked whether I could come back in and train and they let me, but some people don’t have that relationship with clubs.

“I’ve got a WhatsApp group, some who are ex-players and some who haven’t retired, and our mates ring each other every other day just to keep each other going, to see they are getting on because we’re all in the same boat.

“We don’t know what to do. I try to do my punditry and my radio, but it doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a crazy transition and some that finish football will get a divorce, they might be gambling or drinking, a lot of stuff goes on that people don’t really know about.

“Our phones should be ringing. Some people might not have great friends or good relationships with their families, they might not have wives or kids, and they might know what they’re doing. The only thing that keeps me going is my little girl.

“I want to keep training and I don’t want to fall back into that place. I just think there could be programmes in place, or even courtesy calls, just to check where people are in life. It’s not on the clubs that have released you, that club will continue.”

Simpson has raised his concerns with the Premier League to put a more organised programme in place to help free agents just like himself find new clubs by introducing a standardised fitness database.

“I think mentally and physically when you stop getting paid and you stop having a routine, it’s dangerous,” Simpson said. “I’ve highlighted the problems to the Premier League and they think it’s a really good idea to address it.

“They liked the idea that there should be like a sports academy or a set up where out-of-contract players, of all ages, can go to these training camps, as those players can get together, stay fit and have a record of the work they’ve been doing.

“Then when you find a club, they can ask what have you been doing to keep fit and you can say ‘yeah, the training camp’. Now, clubs ring me and say what are you doing, and I say ‘yeah I go to the gym every day and play football’, but there’s no proof.”


Youth career
2003–2006 – Manchester United

Senior career
2006–2010 – Manchester United – 3 games (0 goals)
2006 → Royal Antwerp (loan) – 30 games (1 goal)
2007 → Sunderland (loan) – 14 games (0 goals)
2008 → Ipswich Town (loan) – 8 games (0 goals)
2008–2009 → Blackburn Rovers (loan) – 12 games (0 goals)
2009–2010 → Newcastle United (loan) – 20 games (1 goal)
2010–2013 – Newcastle United – 103 games (0 goals)
2013–2014 – Queens Park Rangers – 37 games (0 goals)
2014–2019 – Leicester City – 113 games (0 goals)
2019–2020 – Huddersfield Town – 24 games (0 goals)
2021–2022 – Bristol City – 7 games (0 goals)


Football League Championship: 2006–07

Newcastle United
Football League Championship: 2009–10

Queens Park Rangers
Football League Championship play-offs: 2014

Leicester City
Premier League: 2015–16

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