How one header forced me to rethink my entire career

Guest post from Bobby Copping, former professional footballer, now Academy Operations at Peterborough Utd FC

I started my footballing career with my hometown club Norwich City FC where I played for their academy for 8 years. I then moved to Manchester at 16 years old to play for Bury FC. After a couple years Bury FC unfortunately folded which left me without a club. However, after a few offers I signed my first professional contract at the age of 18 years old with Peterborough United and a month later made my professional debut against Cambridge United FC.

I then went on to be on the bench in League One which was a big achievement for myself at 18 years old. I spent the first lockdown due to COVID-19 working as hard as I could, running 5/10km a day, in the gym every single day, improving myself so that when I came back in February 2021 I would be ready for regular first team football!

Everything Changed

During the second week out of lockdown I went up for a routine header, when I landed I lost 95% of my vision and the left side of my body went numb. After numerous scans and meetings with specialists we had to come to the conclusion that I had to retire from professional football. I was just breaking into the first team at Peterborough United. My career was taken away from me instantly through an action that contributed to over 100 of the 700+ goals scored in the 2019/20 Premier League season.

I wasn’t going to let this stop me from being successful.

To start with, the setback hit me very hard and threw me into a very dark place. I spent over two weeks locked away in my bedroom, feeling down and out. However, something deep inside me clicked and with the help of Peterborough United I emerged from this dark place and picked myself up.

Moving Forward

I took on a new role straight away at the club in Academy Operations. For example, in July I will be taking on our schools initiative, going into various sectors of education and speaking to students. I have also formed the Bobby Copping Foundation which aims to provide unique mental health support for players, their families and staff within elite sport. We have already had amazing feedback from the first few talks we have done! In addition, I also started studying to become a fully qualified personal trainer which I have nearly completed. In addition to all of this, I have recently become an ambassador for Head For Change and also The Mintridge Foundation who are both charities doing some amazing work. I also just completed my 18km run a day for 31 consecutive days in order to raise awareness for suicide and money for the mental health charity MIND.

I have really turned this negative situation into a positive one by turning my experiences into an opportunity to help others.

The Future

When looking beyond the present, I am aiming to start a masters in sports business and also start my UEFA B license coaching badges. The end goal is to transfer into a more senior role in the business side of sport whilst at the same time using my experience to help educate, support and inspire as many people as possible. In terms of The Bobby Copping Foundation, our aim is to build it up to a global level and help as many people as possible, using my career and experience to benefit the younger generation.


Instagram: @bobbycopping / @bobbycoppingfoundation

Twitter – @bobbycoppingfdn

Facebook – Bobby Copping Foundation

LAPS Members can discuss Bobby’s post on our Community page.