Having recently graduated from Anglia Ruskin University, academy graduate George Lapslie was full of pride reflecting on his hard work over the past three years which saw him earn a 2:1 in Coaching for Performance in Football.
Swapping the football at his feet for a textbook in his hands, the red and white of Charlton for a cap and gown at graduation, the midfielder’s hard work on and off the pitch paid off as he saw his side promoted the same year of his graduation.
He said: “It was tough balancing everything to start with, especially in the first year. I was a bit sloppy with it to be honest. First-year was hard, I had assignments due and I rushed to do them in a week or so.
“As time went on in second and third year I learnt how to manage it, to pluck it out the way every now and then and work at it. It was a lot easier to manage.”
Coming through the Charlton Academy himself, Lapslie has urged the younger players at the club to follow in his footsteps and continue their education alongside progressing as footballers.
“Now it’s done, I’d definitely recommend it to younger players. The feeling you get when you do it, I’m so proud of it. You can see just by the amount of people that are interested and want to talk about it.
“For young players, if you’re thinking about doing it, just speak to somebody about it because you get a lot of support from the PFA and Charlton. Charlton helped me fund it and Joe Francis, the Head of Education, helped me academically. There’s a lot of support for young footballers if you want to do a degree, so why not?”
The support went as far as the first-team squad and manager Lee Bowyer, who took interest in the 22-year-old’s development both on and off the pitch.
“I had to go up to Bows’ office to ask to leave early to go to my graduation and he was really interested in it, asking me loads of questions. He was really supportive and said well done for what I’d achieved.
“All the boys congratulated me too, a few of them didn’t even know that I did it as it was all quite behind the scenes!” said Lapslie.
The sky is the limit for the midfielder, who made 32 appearances in our promotion-winning season last year and is already looking forward to furthering his education even more.
“I definitely want to go on to do a masters.” he said.
“I’ve told the uni that I want to take a year out as my dissertation took three or four months, quite a lot of time. I’ll come back and do my masters in nutrition at some point.”
There is a plague of uncertainty in football and in many ways Lapslie has added a security blanket to his life, protecting his future after retirement as he looks to go on and become a Charlton great.
“It’s definitely a good fall back option as I know football isn’t going to last forever and I’ve got to think about what I want to do after it. Even if I don’t use that degree to get a job, it’s extra knowledge I now know about the game.” he explained.
Nobody can be certain what each set of 90 minutes will yield, let alone the fate of somebody’s career but George Lapslie has cemented his status as a University graduate, a proud memory that will live alongside precious moments such as making his debut for his childhood club, scoring his first goal and gaining promotion to the Championship at Wembley.
Article by Nick Emms