'It's not all about me': Negotiating the transition out of (semi-) professional football from an autoethnographic perspective

Darryn Stamp, Paul Potrac, LEE NELSON

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review


The aim of this study was to explore the multiple transitions that occur during retirement from (semi-) professional sport. The study used an autoethnographic methodology to consider the embodied, relational and emotional dimensions of these transitions as I, the first author approached the end of my football career. Over a period of six years, I shared, reflected, evaluated and critiqued these transitional experiences and associated autoethnographic writings with authors two and three. Five vignettes were selected that helped me to better understand the fluctuant nature of my multiple identities in relation to multiple transitions. These data were subjected to an iterative analysis where I rigorously developed my emic and etic readings of them. The findings highlighted how being a (semi-) professional footballer was one identity among many and that these multiple identities were formed and re-formed through social interactions and relationships with various stakeholders. These transitional experiences initiated an array of physical sensations and sensate feelings that were then interpreted in relation to social cues and the social environment. Importantly, these embodied feelings were an unavoidable feature of my transition whereby my emotional experiences depended on my embodied interactions with others, my embodied interaction with my environment, and my embodied interpretations of these relationships. I make theoretical sense of my embodied social experiences using the work of Burkitt (1999, 2014a, 2014b). The study offers an alternative perspective to the retirement literature whereby the methodology of self-stories promotes a greater self-awareness in relation to an athlete’s changing identities, changing social worlds and changing norms and traditions. In turn, this may help practitioners and athletes deconstruct cultural practices and better prepare for transitions away from sport.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)756-771
Number of pages16
JournalQualitiative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health
Issue number6
Early online date6 Mar 2023
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Transition
  • athletic retirement
  • autoethnography
  • football
  • multiple identities

Research Groups

  • Practice in Coaching & Teaching


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