【獨家專訪】化身會計師的前曼聯門將 The Story of an ex-Man United goalkeeper-turned-accountant

足球財經 於 28/04/2020 發表 收藏文章
不少球員退役後,都會選擇留在球圈當上領隊或教練。有些名氣比較大的球星,可能會利用自己的名氣從商,發展自己的生意。運動員好動活躍的個性,和文職工作似乎有點格格不入。不過,我最近就留意到一位曾效力曼聯的球員,再退役後選擇了成為在不少人眼中看似比較刻板的會計師。筆者作為同行兼曼聯球迷,自不然對他的選擇十分好奇。Very often, you would hear professional footballers become managers and coaches after they retire from the game, while some of those with a higher profile may utilise their fame and start their own business. It’s less likely you would see ex-footballers taking up white-collar office jobs, but I recently located a former Manchester United player who chose to become an accountant – what many people would consider to be a rather dull job, and vastly different to that of a professional athletes. Being a fellow accountant and a Manchester United supporter myself, I was naturally intrigued with his career choice.

現年接近39嵗的保羅華卓卡,生於美國加州,七歲的時候跟隨家人移居英國,並從九歲起加入曼聯青訓體系受訓。2000 年一月在巴西舉行的世界冠軍球會杯曼聯對澳洲南墨爾本的分組賽後備入替,初次為曼聯一隊上陣。翌年亦曾在聯賽杯對屈福特和英超對李斯特城的賽事上陣。2002年轉投查爾頓,期後職業生涯大部分時間主要在英冠和英甲球會效力,包括哈特斯菲、黑池、列斯聯和奧咸等, 合共上陣逾三百場聯賽賽事。2017年加盟印度超級聯賽球會Kerala Blasters, 效力一個球季後退役。Paul Rachubka is turning 39 soon. Born in California, he moved to Britain with his family when he was seven, and began training at Manchester United since the age. He made his first team debut at the inaugural FIFA Club World Championship held in Brazil in January 2000, coming on as a sub in the group game against South Melbourne, and went on to make first team appearances in the League Cup against Watford and in the Premier League against Leicester City. Paul moved on to Charlton Athletic in 2002, and spent most of his career at the Championship and League One, playing for clubs such as Huddersfield Town, Blackpool, Leeds and Oldham Athletic, and played his final season as a professional footballer in 2017 with Indian Premier League side Kerala Blasters.

筆者有幸在 2018年6月參加由香港曼聯官方球迷會舉辦的活動,同場與華卓卡與貝碧托夫、沙夏和科東尼等不同年代的前曼聯球員見面。及後從社交媒體得知華卓卡走上了當會計師的路,在一家會計師行實習。我於是嘗試透過社交媒體和他攀談,沒料到華卓卡很快就回應,還很樂意和我進行訪問,分享他球員生涯的點滴和走上會計師之路的原因。I had the pleasure of meeting Paul in person in June 2018 in a meet and greet event organised by the Official Manchester United Supporters Club of Hong Kong, together with a host of other former United players including Dimitar Berbatov, Louis Saha and Quinton Fortune. Shortly afterwards, I found out from social media that Paul began training as an accountant. Out of the blue I tried to message him, and surprisingly, he did not only respond fairly quickly, but was also more than happy to share bits from his time as a professional footballer, as well as explaining his choice of careers.
Q: 你在著名的巴西馬拉簡拿球場為曼聯一隊作處子戰,並在曼聯保持不失一球的紀錄 – 當中包括了在英超正選完成整場對李斯特城的賽事。回顧你在曼聯的時光,你感到驕傲嗎? You made your senior debut at the Maracana and never conceded a goal for the first team at United – including a full game in the Premier League against Leicester City. How fondly do you look back at your time with United?

A: 效力曼聯是我一直以來的夢想。能夠在曼聯成長,我非常的感恩。而在里約熱内盧初次為曼聯上陣,也是難以置信的經歷。我本來就在曼市附近長大,一直都視曼聯為我的家庭,特別是蘇斯克查回歸成為曼聯領隊後,他令所有曾經效力曼聯的球員覺得受到歡迎,這也令我和曼聯的聯繫更加緊密。It was my dream growing up to play for Manchester United. To grow with the club during that time I will feel forever grateful and to make my debut in Rio was an unbelievable experience. Having Ole back at the club is special as he makes all the former players welcome so being local lad I still interact with the club a lot and will always consider it my family.

Q: 年青球員要突破打進曼聯一隊從來都不是一件容易的事,而對於上陣機會最為有限的守門員,就更加困難了。你自九歲起就在曼聯受訓,一直到你21嵗時離隊。那時候,你心理上準備好要離開曼聯的一天嗎? It’s never easy to breakthrough as a youngster at Man United, and being a goalkeeper is probably the hardest position given the limited number of opportunities. You started at United since you were nine and stayed on until you were 21 – were you mentally prepared for the day when you finally had to leave United?

A: 我離開曼聯前曾和費格遜爵士討論我的將來,我知道如果我司職其他位置的話,或者會在曼聯獲得更多的上陣機會,但我理解在龍門的位置,費爵爺需要一名實力已經獲得證實的球員把關,而我必須要往外闖才能獲得上陣機會去證明自己的實力。我在曼聯的時期,在我之前的派京頓和居堅也面對同一個狀況,所以對我來説並不感到意外,甚至可以說是理所當然的事情。After a chat with Sir Alex he made things clear. If I wasn’t a keeper I could be given more chances but he wanted proven keepers and it was now my turn to go out and prove myself. For me, this made a lot of sense. This was the next step. I’d seen it with Kev Pilkington and Nick Culkin so it wasn’t a surprise.
Q: 離開曼聯後,你為不同球會上陣合共超過三百場聯賽賽事。你在曼聯以外的球員生涯中,令你最享受的是哪段回憶?我相信在2008年獲選為黑池的年度最佳球員,與及和黑池先後升上英冠和英超應該是其中一部分吧? You went on and made over 300 League appearances in your career. What was your best memory in football outside of United? I guess being named Player of the Year with Blackpool in 2008, and being involved when they achieved promotions to the Championship and subsequently to the Premier League must rank amongst them?

A: 我在黑池的日子,無論在場内還是場外,都是非常美妙的時光。其實我整個球員生涯的每一分鐘我都十分享受。曾經有人告訴我一個學徒球員的職業生涯平均只有大概六年,這一點我一直都銘記心中。我最終能持續了接近二十年,實在有點始料不及。Blackpool was a fantastic time, on and off the pitch. I enjoyed all my time as a professional footballer. I was told as an apprentice that the average career is 6 years and to enjoy every minute of it. So that was my mindset from the day I turned pro, I didn’t expect it to last for 20 years!

Q: 你的職業生涯差不多全都在英格蘭渡過,卻在最後階段出國加盟印度超級聯賽球隊 Kerala Blasters, 和同樣曾效力曼聯的布朗和貝碧托夫成為隊友. 可以分享一下那段經歷嗎? You’ve spent your entire career in England before ending it with a season in India with Kerala Blasters, where you were teammates with Wes Brown and Dimitar Berbatov. How was your experience playing abroad at the twilight of your career?
A: 印超聯在很多方面都給了我很多精彩的體驗. 我在十四嵗時就和布朗認識,我們能夠同時在球員生涯的開端和結尾成為隊友,就像繞了一圈般。加上能夠在我球員生涯完結前體會另一個國家的文化,對我和我的家人都是以個畢生難忘的經歷。曼聯原定在今年夏天到印度進行季前熱身賽,我本來也計劃會和曼聯一起到印度,可惜現在所有計劃都取消了。The ISL was amazing, for so many different reasons, I’ve known Wes since I was 14 so finishing off my career with him was like going full circle and getting to see another country and culture was something my family and I will never forget. It’s a shame the United preseason game in India this summer has been cancelled as I was looking forward to going back.

Q: 你和以前曼聯的隊友們還有聯絡嗎?Are you still in touch with any of your teammates at United?

A: 當然有,而且去到世界任何一個角落都有機會碰到和曼聯有關的人.之前提到我視曼聯為我的家庭一部分,曼聯球員之間那種互相照應的文化,讓大家的情誼一直維繫,加上社交媒體的流行,大大拉近了我和前隊友們的距離。Of course, it’s amazing how you bump into the lads all over the world, that’s the power of United. When I mentioned family earlier, it’s that culture of looking after each other that still shines through. And social media makes it easy to keep in touch with everyone.

Q: 我從你的個人檔案中留意到你早在2005年便開始收讀一個學士課程,雖然最終花了好一段時間才收畢。你當時是否已經在規劃退役後的前途?I noted from your profile that you began a bachelor’s degree programme way back in 2005, although it took you quite some time to finish it. What was your thinking behind back then? Were you already planning for life after football at that stage?

A: 打從我十八嵗時獲提供一份為期一年的職業球員合約,我就開始為自己計劃足球以外的人生。最初我曾打算申請美國大學的足球獎學金,但後來我接連獲得職業球會的合約,就一直沒有回到美國升學。不過,我始終覺得自己的腦袋和身體其他肌肉一樣需要不斷的鍛煉,所以我報讀了英國公開大學的學士課程,並嘗試把我學到的應用在我的球員生涯中,同時期望為自己退役後的工作好好裝備。Having been offered a 1 year contract as an 18 year old I always had a plan B. That started as a plan to go to university in the States as I could get a scholarship via my football skills. In my mind I just kept delaying it as the football contracts kept coming. So, I ended up doing a part time Open University degree, I’ve always seen the brain as a muscle that needs to be developed and I applied what I learnt studying Environmental Science to help my football career, knowing that it will have additional benefits after, when I had to get a proper job.

Q: 在衆多不同的行業當中,何以你會選擇會計呢?你年青的時候有考慮當會計師的念頭嗎?Why did you choose to pursue a career in accounting? Is this something you’ve wanted to do since you were younger?

A: 我在念預科時選修了數學,產生了一定的興趣,還利用我學到的去分析入球與射門等數據。經過接近二十年的球員生涯,我總算對足球和整個行業有一定的認識,亦瞭解在這行業成功發展所需的要素。我希望能夠做得與別不同,給予自己新的挑戰同時繼續發展我已掌握的技能。要在職業球壇生存,你必須要擁有比常人更高的抱負和目標,而這種不斷推動自己的心態,即使退役後依然不會改變。我希望能把這些我在球員生涯學習到的東西,在另一個舞台上重新發揮。而我認為會計師的工作不但講求深厚的專業才能,也非常注重團隊合作,這也是把我吸引到會計師行工作的主要原因。I did maths A-level during my apprenticeship-like the above answer I used this to initially help my goalkeeping-analysing data (shots, goals, stats, etc.) as it is of interest to me. Having expert knowledge of the game and what it entails to have a career in the industry I wanted to differentiate and challenge myself with something that continues to develop the skills I’ve already got. Playing professional football, you have to be highly ambitious and that doesn’t stop once you achieve your goals. I now want to apply those skills in a new way. Therefore an office based job, in a high performing environment, that requires specialist people, who also work in teams, drew me to the larger accounting firms.

Q: 你在退役後不久就參加了一個由四大會計師行之一安永專門設計給退役運動員的培訓計劃。可以分享一下這是個怎麽樣的計劃嗎?它對你找到目前的工作有多大幫助?Shortly after you hung your boots, you joined Ernst & Young’s Personal Performance Programme designed for professional athletes. Can you tell me more about this programme, and how has it helped you land your current job?
A: 早在我退役前五年,我就和另一家四大會計師行德勤討論加入他們在曼徹斯特的體育行業團隊,但後來獲得安永邀請參與他們的計劃。這個計劃由一名因傷患而提早收山的前盧頓守門員 Scott Ward 領導,主要為協助職業運動員應付退役後身份變化所帶來的劇變,並傳授有用的商業和財務知識等職場技能,幫助退役運動員學會管理個人財務和尋找新的事業方向。我認為這個計劃和我已有的技能可謂非常配合,我自己對業務發展的工作甚有興趣,但我最大的目標還是獲取專業資格。我覺得我和很多我認識的職業運動員最不同的地方,是我很早就意識到我的運動員生涯終會有完結的一天,並一直期望和策劃退役後從事其他工作。I’d previously spoken to Deloitte’s about joining their Sports Business Team in Manchester and had been putting it off for 5 years and then got approached from EY to develop and deliver their Personal Performance Programme. This was something I thought fit well with my skill set and whilst I enjoyed doing business development, my main goal was to gain a professional qualification. The programme was developed by Scott Ward and helps athletes deal with the cliff edge trauma of when their career finishes. I’d say I’m the opposite of most professional athletes I’ve met in that I always knew my career would end and was looking forward to doing something else after full time sport.

Q: 你在今年初加入了一家中型會計師行當上見習會計師。你現在日常的工作是如何的?You began your current role as a trainee at a middle-sized firm of chartered accountants at the beginning of this year. What exactly does your current job entail?

A: 我加入的Saffery會計師行,除了協助我考取專業會計師資格外,也能讓我吸收會計師行不同範疇的工作。目前我主要為運動員和演藝界從業員提供全面的會計和稅務支援服務。Joining Saffery has put me on course to gain a professional qualification and get a wider practice experience. I’m finding my role, is about more holistic support of sports people and entertainers with all their accounting and tax needs.

Q: 在你展開新的事業不久,全球就爆發出新冠肺炎疫症,有沒有打亂你的發展計劃?你在疫情下怎樣應付和適應新工作?With the coronavirus outbreak shortly after you’ve started your new career, do you find your development being adversely affected? How are you coping in the current environment?

A: 我本身看事情比較正面,相信你也知道對見習生而言,工作總不會缺少。而且現在大家都在家工作,我免除了每天要出入曼徹斯特市中心的交通時間,讓我每天多了一個小時的時間可以利用。我修讀的學位課程其中一個研究課題正是關於未來的工作模式和利用互聯網工作,這正好讓我能學以致用。今時今日,Zoom等視像會議工具令大家可以省卻穿州過省的時間,大大提升工作效率,但同時也令一天工作過後放鬆下來變得比以前難了。 I’m a positive looking person and as you probably know there is never a shortage of work to do as a trainee and instead of having to commute into Manchester every day I get an extra hour to use which I put to good use with exercise. My degree was about the future of work and how the internet works so I feel better prepared than most to operate in this way. Zoom meetings are so much more efficient now due to not having to travel round the country. Trying to switch off at the end of the day is much harder now.

Q: 這場疫症對球圈各個階層都帶來前所未見的考驗。你曾效力過好幾家英冠和英甲球會,相信你對在那個級別的球會目前面對的困境應該有很深的理解。你認為有球會因為這場疫症而陷入財困而破產的可能性有多高?This pandemic has brought an unprecedented challenge to football across all levels. Having been involved in a number of clubs at the Championship and League One levels, I guess you may have a deep sense of understanding on how clubs at that level are suffering. Do you see a real possibility of certain league clubs going out of business before everything resumes to normal?

A: 這個有點難去預料。誠然,不少球會也不是按照正常的商業原則營運,特別是一直都沒有量入為出的球會,這段期間自然面對更大的壓力。不過,基於普羅大眾對現場體育活動的喜好,我相信政府會有動機確保英國整個足球體系的健全和穩定。足球運動不時都會面對外在環境改變帶來的影響,今次也不例外,或會對環球球壇局勢帶來改變,但同時球會也習慣了適應變化,我相信疫情過後英超依然會是世上實力最强的聯賽。It’s a difficult question to answer as football isn’t run on sound business principles. The love of live sport will mean that the government could have a vested interest in making sure the football pyramid continues. I believe there will be changes and the Premier League will remain the strongest league in the world. There is always change in football and the clubs are used to adapting and I don’t see this as being any different. There are clubs that always overstretch themselves and this will apply extra pressure on those clubs at this moment in time.

Q: 你期望在會計行業取得怎樣的成就?What do you wish to achieve in your new career as an accountant?

A: 我很享受幫助別人,如果能夠利用我的專業知識幫助我以前的隊友和球會就更好。當然,現階段我的首要目標是完成考試獲取專業會計師資格,我的目標是要盡我所能,成為出色的會計師。I enjoy helping people and if I can help my former colleagues, teams and leagues then that would be a bonus. First priority is to pass all the exams and get qualified. My goal is to be the best accountant I can be.

Q: 最後,你覺得自己未來會否以行政人員身份回歸足球界,出任球會的管理層? And finally, do you see yourself returning to the football industry in an executive role in the future?

A:多年來我一直都很勤力和有遠大的抱負,現時我亦朝著不斷發展和演變的目標努力,我希望能在會計行業得到如同我球員生涯的所得到的成就。我相信現階段對我而言,較重要的是好好裝備自己,為自己製造更多機會,待機會來臨的時候再作選擇。至於我未來會否回歸足球界,我只能說我對所有體育項目都很有興趣,未來也可能也比較傾向往這方面發展。I have my own goals and they keep evolving, I’m very ambitious and hard working. I want to achieve what I did in my football career and apply that to my accountancy career. I believe it’s about creating opportunities and then deciding on them as they come along. In answer to your question all I can say is that I love all sports so will probably gravitate towards them more than other sectors.

後記 Epilogue

當我初次找上華卓卡的時候,我其實只是嘗試碰碰運氣,看看他會否回覆。當他最終同意和我進行這次訪問,實在令我喜出望外。When I first decided to approach Paul, I was really only trying my luck. I didn’t really expect he would bother to reply. The fact that he also happily agreed to my request was way more than what I have expected.

坦白說,撇除他在曼聯效力期間以外,我對華卓卡球員生涯並不太過了解。和他交談過後,我覺得他除了很平易近人之外,還是一個很有毅力的人。他為自己定下了很清晰的目標,也很清楚自己想成就什麽。值得一提的是,他在回答我不少的提問之後,也反過來問我一些關於我工作的問題。顯然,他對會計這個行業充滿熱誠,很想把握機會加深了解,也非常有決心要在這個行業裏取得成功。我相信,他絕對具備要在會計行業成功的特質。在此,我誠心祝願華卓卡在會計行業享受在美滿的事業,並祝福他和他的家人生活愉快。Admittedly, I did not know too much about Paul as a player other than his time with Man United. Having spoken to him, I find Paul a very down-to-earth and determined person. He has very clear goals for himself and knows what he wants to achieve in life. It was also remarkable that after addressing my long list of questions, he also took an interest in my career and asked me a quite a bit about my work as an accountant. It clearly shows he has an immense interest in this sector, and is determined to succeed. I am convinced that Paul has what it takes to become a qualified chartered accountant. I wish him a fulfilling and fruitful career ahead, and the very best in life for him and his family.

Paul recently had an interview with United’s official website on his time at United – read it here.

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