Pro Footballer to Estate Agent

By: Matt Giggs | March 25, 2024

Losing my pro football career made me the estate agent I am today. I’ll show you how I was making decisions back when I was just 19 and how I learned to make better decisions now.

Before I get into that, who am I? My name is Matt Giggs, and I've been an estate agent for over 28 years. I started as a junior, as a tea boy, and I climbed all the way up the corporate ladder. I've been an independent estate agent. I've gone into business ownership and started my own estate agency, which is now The Giggs Group, selling over a billion pounds worth of property. And I've mentored and trained thousands of estate agents to do the same across the UK.

That is what I'm here to talk about – how I can help you to go from being an estate agent, to being a business owner, to having the best career, just like I’ve had over the last 28 years. A lot of it depends on learning how to make and learn from decisions, as I did when I lost my football career.

It was always football – I never dreamt I’d be an estate agent

I look back at those moments now and just think to myself that was literally all I was ever going to be. I thought I'd just show you this picture of a photo album from back then. I lived, breathed, and dreamt about football. It was my everything. It was the thing that I threw every little bit of energy into. Believe it or not I never actually dreamt of being an estate agent.

Football, trials, and decision-making

When I look back on my childhood, those days of going to school, playing in playgrounds, and everything else, I see I never thought, ‘I’m going to go and be an estate agent for 28 years.’ No way, right? It was football.

I got on the ladder of training and playing. I was at the Peterborough United School of Excellence, and I had England trials when I was about 14 years of age. I was at Leeds, I had trials at Leicester, and all these different lovely places. It was a pretty cool time, looking back. I'm not going to lie, it was a really interesting journey.

When I look back at some of my decision making when I was like 15, I see where things started to go wrong. I remember I was training with Cambridge United when I got poached by Peterborough United. My rationale for why I went from Cambridge United to Peterborough United was basically because Peterborough was easier to get to, there were a couple of lads that I knew, there was a coach that I knew. It just seemed like a really easy decision at the time.

When I was playing at Cambridge United, actually, I was playing some of my best football at a younger age. But I thought it would be easier to join Peterborough United and go down that particular road. That was actually quite a pivotal decision to be honest. When I was at Cambridge United, I was playing with a lot of lads who I look back on years down the line who ended up playing first team football. They were pushing me and I was better for it, but I chose to leave.

I chose comfort

I made my decision based on comfort. I suppose when you're that sort of age, you don't really know how to think and figure out what's the right thing for you. If I was to go back now, what would I have done differently? I’d have wanted to stay outside of my comfort zone. I know now that when I slipped into my comfort zone, I slipped backwards in my learning and my ability.

Not long after joining Peterborough, in my first game against Norwich City, I remember breaking a bone in my foot. I was injured, and it all started to kind of go wrong at that point. I had a pretty crap first year as an apprentice, started mixing with the wrong crowds, probably, outside of football. I was enjoying what I'd consider to be another life.

I took my eye off of the game, and it really did affect my chances of progression. I always remember it was about March time and I got tapped up by somebody who was connected to Rushden and Diamonds. A few little promises were made, and on the back of a few promises, I ended up going to my gaffer and the head honcho at Peterborough United and asking if I could get a decision as to whether I was going to get a pro contract.

I always remember that it was a straightforward answer: “No, we're not giving out decisions right now. If you don't want to wait you have to go.” And I ended up leaving.

I remember walking out of there. I hadn't even told my mum and dad – they didn't know their son was just about to walk out on his football career, but I did. I walked out.

The downward spiral after I left

I walked down the road towards the train station, and I was thinking ‘What the fuck have I done?’

The next thing you know I was in labouring jobs. I was on building sites. I was at power stations. I was in the trenches. I was carrying crap around sites. All of a sudden my identity just completely shifted and disappeared. I felt like I was lost.

Around this time my brother Andy passed away very suddenly. He died of meningitis – which is why I've raised a fair amount of money for meningitis over the years. Can you imagine what this is like for a young man of, I don't know, 19?

I was standing in a hospital in London, and then next thing you know I'm in a room with the doctors, with my mum and dad being given a decision to turn off my brother's life support machine.

I was just feeling completely desperate and lost, not really knowing what the hell I'm doing. What am I supposed to do? How the hell do you deal with this shit? How do you deal with being asked to be involved in making a decision to turn off your own brother's life support machine?

I think my life spiralled pretty much at that point. You know, things just seemed to keep going wrong. It was almost like why me? I found myself feeling really lonely and started turning to things like drugs and alcohol and social circles and pushing myself outside of my values.

Looking for direction

It was shortly after that that I started learning to drive. I was feeling so lost. I didn't really know what I wanted to do when my mum cut out a newspaper advert. She said, “Look, there's a trainee estate agent job. Your uncle Philip used to work for Harrods Estate Agents. You'll be really good at it. Really good at it. You should go and do it.”

I just remember thinking to myself ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah. It says you need a driving licence, some sales experience, and I want none of those things.’ I was really in this mode of feeling sorry for myself and being a real victim not just to all of the things that had happened which were outside of my control, but some that were inside my control, too. I was so focused on negativity and just feeling really sorry for myself. But it was my mum that said, “Just go and ask. You know you don't know.”

Estate agency offered me a lifeline

I remember coming away from the house after that conversation with my mum and walking into the town, because obviously I didn't drive. I walked to the estate agents in the town and was greeted by a very enthusiastic and energised guy. That was until he realised I wasn't necessarily going to buy a house.

I inquired about the job and sat down in front of the manager. The manager said, “Why do you want to apply to be an estate agent? You don't have a driving licence.” And I just said, “I love helping people.” It was almost like that moment was a lifeline, you know?

I look back now and think, 28 years later I'm here helping estate agents learn how to scale their careers and their abilities. I help them achieve things in their life which are probably unimaginable for them before we work together.

I found my passion: estate agency

When I look back on myself then – after three interviews and getting the job and everything else, I suddenly realised I had the skills and passion to do something again. I loved helping people. I loved the recognition of helping people. And I had a bit of competitiveness about me. So being an estate agent in a corporate environment where you were encouraged to be quite competitive fit.

I went from feeling sorry for myself to finding something to focus on. I was able to see that the job really was all about the things that I value the most: recognition, feeling passionate about helping people, and actually competing to help people. I could really be there for people, relating to them, connecting, and building relationships. It seemed to come quite naturally – a bit like football did early in my career.

But you know I’d lost that career, I’d lost my brother, I’d lost a lot of things in a short period of time. My mindset when it was in a negative state seemed to just draw more of the sort of negativity and those shitty energies around me. It was only when I took this step of getting this opportunity to be a trainee estate agent that a new light at the end of a very long tunnel began to appear.

Estate agency is a career

It was at that point when I started to think to myself, ‘I can do this. This is a career’. I realised I could get into it, and I could enjoy it. Now, I use that moment when I look at the current crises that we face in our industry and the economic crises that you face as a business owner.

We have to make big decisions and have really dark days, dark moments, and challenges. But I know from having got through all of this early on that if I take these challenges on, if I embrace these challenges, I'm only going to get better, stronger, clearer. I'm only going to be able to help even more people when I move forward from these challenges.

Maybe I'll write a book one day about the challenges that I've had just in recent years. Because of my past, I've been able to deal with them with resilience and understanding.

Meet challenges with resilience and understanding

I just saw a little quote on my phone earlier that I suppose might resonate: “Each time a door closes, the world opens up the next one.” In life, and certainly in estate agency, lots of doors close and that's okay. The next one will open.

To put it another way, if a chapter in your book closes, the next chapter begins the moment you turn the page. For me, since I turned the page to estate agency, I've probably had a good 100 chapters in this career that have opened and closed. I understand that’s how it works and I have the resilient mindset I need to turn the page to the next chapter. If you need help with your mindset, check out ‘3 Things You Need to Do to Stand Out as an Estate Agent’.

As hard as this is to say, and I know this probably won’t make sense to everybody, but I'm a better person because my brother passed away. I'm a better person because I lost my football career. I'm a better person because I've been through those challenges.

When you're going through challenges like those, that's the last thought you've got in your mind. You don't think about being better, more resilient, or anything else. You're just fucking fighting your way through it. I totally get that, and by the way I can tell you in the last 12 months I've been fighting through my own challenges.

This will pass

What holds me strong is the fact that I know that what I'm going through now will pass. I know that I'm going to be even better equipped to take on what comes next because of what I’m going through now. That's what I want you to take away from this now.

No matter what you're doing right now, you've had something challenging in the last 12 months, possibly a lot more than I've had, but I'm telling you now you're going to get through it, and you're going to be better for it.

Just ask yourself:

- What are you winning?

- What are you learning?

- What are you changing from going through those moments that's going to help you move towards your goals, your dreams, your desires?

Finally, ask yourself this: what are you truly passionate about?

That’s the most important point I want to get across to you because when I look back now at my decision making, when the decision making was poorer it was based on short-term results, not long-term gain. My poor results were born out of bad decisions that kept me in my comfort zone. I’ve made good decisions when I followed my passion and my heart. I've ended up in a career that has literally changed my life. Follow your passion and your heart first. Connect with that.

Let me help you make good decisions as an estate agent

The first thing you need to do to be a great estate agent (or anything, really) is get really clear about what it is that lights you up. What is it that makes you feel alive?

When you make decisions based on that you won’t look for quick and easy wins. Instead, you’ll look at the longevity, the long game. You’ll do the right thing for you, your passion, and your values. But you need to understand even in the darkest moments, you're growing beyond measure.

So, there you have it. That’s how I lost my football career and changed my life by finding my passion to help people as an estate agent. I hope you've taken some lessons away from this. I hope that me bearing my soul to you in this post is going to really help you move forward as well.

I’d love to hear what you’re taking away from this, click here to send me a message and let me know. Also, let me know what kind of content you want to see from me.

If you need more great training material, check out my YouTube channel – while you’re there, make sure you subscribe and hit the notifications bell because you’re going to get even more content moving forward.

Thanks for reading this and for coming on this journey with me. It's really important to me that I feel I can help you to progress and scale your career without the sleaze so you can enjoy your world of estate agency just like I've done over the last 28 years. See you soon.

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