My business allows me to keep focussing on football

Philip Wingfield played semi-professional football for Farnborough FC and Kingstonians FC, and played in the final of the FA Trophy at Wembley. He now has a ServiceMaster Clean franchise, covering Kingston Upon Thames in Surrey.

I’d had trials as an 18-year-old for Crystal Palace FC, but hadn’t quite made it so I’d ended up playing semi-professionally. My team-mates were people who hadn’t quite made it in the leagues above, or former professional full-time players who were coming to the ends of their careers. Farnborough FC and Kingstonians FC were the two clubs I spent some time at.

The highlight of my career was probably scoring in the fourth round of the FA Cup, or playing at Wembley in the final of the FA Trophy. Match of the Day, that sort of thing, really special moments.

When I was 18, I started working for ServiceMaster. I sort of fell into it by accident, but swiftly realized it was good hours as I also wanted time to train and play football. I was working for my boss at the time, but when I retired from football I’d really built a career doing it so I decided to buy the franchise from him, as he was looking to retire. The timing worked out well.

That was 20 years ago!

I took over a business that was already very well established and I’d been working in it for 17 years previously, so I knew it had a really good customer base, and was well known in the area. I knew that if I just carried on running it as my previous boss did, I knew that it would be successful.

It hasn’t been easy, there’s been ups and downs, but I wouldn’t do anything else.

Being someone who’s sporty, that really helped me in in the work because I was used to hard work, routine and discipline. Even at semi-pro level, it’s a tough environment, people criticising you and that sort of thing, you’ve got to be quite thick skinned to be successful in it.

Sportspeople are usually driven people, they’re usually competitive and they don’t like losing. So you like to succeed in whatever you’re doing. And that that’s why I think running your own franchise is a good fit for a sportsperson.

And it’s also allowed me to stay connected to football. At 34 I stopped playing semi-professional football and then I didn’t play any football for about 6 years and then I got back into it playing veterans football at 40, and played for another 10 years. I only retired at 50 because of my knee. It’s veteran’s football and I’ve played with a few ex-pros, we even won the Veterans National Cup!