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One of the biggest questions a footballer faces is what to do after they finish their playing career.Many move into coaching, others become agents or become media pundits, while back in the day opening a pub was a career of choice. But how many have ever started their own ice cream business? Former New Zealand international Rory Fallon has done just that after hanging up his boots at the age of 35.
The striker’s last involvement in the game was his country’s World Cup qualifying exit at the hands of Peru, but by then he already had his eye on sorbet over soccer.”Ice cream’s been a passion of mine since I was young,” he said as we sat down at one of the restaurants in the south west of England that he and his wife supply through their Plymouth-based Cowlick Creamery business.”I remember when my dad was a football coach, he used to coach on Saturday and I’d play my games on a Saturday. On a Sunday we’d get ice cream as a treat if we won.”My wife and I both had a major passion for it. Every time we’d go away on holiday, the first place we’d hit wouldn’t be the theme parks or the beach – it would be the best ice cream shop in town.”The opportunity came up when I got injured to start up our own ice cream business and we wanted to do it.”Fallon is the typical journeyman striker – he has played for 15 clubs from the second to the seventh tier of English football, as well as the top flight in Scotland.So it comes as no surprise that it was footballers who gave Fallon and his wife Carly the confidence they needed to set up their business.He continued: “She was a trained chef and we got a move to Aberdeen, so she couldn’t really do anything else, she was pretty much just following me around the country.”While I was playing football she was making ice cream and thinking of new flavours.”She had a desktop ice cream machine and we would feed all the footballers – all the lads at Aberdeen would come and eat all the ice cream and rate it and everyone loved it.”A national hero in New Zealand
While ice cream is his new love, football is what made Fallon the man he is.In his native New Zealand he is revered as a hero.The son of Kevin Fallon, the assistant manager of the New Zealand team that went to the 1982 World Cup, it was Fallon’s goal in the second leg of the All Whites’ play-off with Bahrain that sent the Kiwis to the 2010 World Cup.He said: “I played at every level except the English Premier League. But I doubt that even if I played in the Premier League or the Champions League, nothing can compare to playing in a World Cup.”Did I ever think it would be possible to play in a World Cup? No, because the chances are I was going to play for New Zealand. But to get to a World Cup and take my team to the World Cup, nothing can compare to it.”Rory FallonBorn in New Zealand, he moved to the UK to join Barnsley as a youth player Played for England’s youth teams before switching to New Zealand as a senior playerScored 86 goals in an 18-year league career Won 23 caps for New Zealand, scoring six timesNew Zealand had got a 0-0 draw away in Bahrain and Fallon struck just before half-time in the second leg at a packed Westpac Stadium in Wellington, heading home a corner that would give his side a 1-0 win and send them to South Africa.”We shouldn’t have got a draw (in the first leg), we should have lost 2-0 really, we had angels blocking the goal I believe,” he recalled. “They hit the post, the crossbar and missed an open goal.”Out of all of the games I ever played that was the only time I was scared to play. I was petrified because I knew the repercussions – to have an opportunity like that and to blow it at home would have been catastrophic.”All of a sudden I saw the ball popping my way and thinking ‘this is my chance’.”When I headed that ball it felt so good off my head. As soon as I saw it in the back of the net I just felt euphoric.”I still get goosebumps talking about it, it’s one of those things you imagine as a child and when it happens to you you’re living out your wildest fantasy.”World Cup heartache
Drawn in a group with defending world champions Italy, Slovakia and Paraguay, the All Whites were seen as huge underdogs.A Winston Reid stoppage-time equaliser salvaged a point in their opening game with Slovakia, before they forced another 1-1 draw with Italy and finally drew 0-0 with Paraguay – a result which saw the South Americans top the group.The Italians finished bottom and Fallon says their draw, after a hotly disputed penalty, still fills him with regret.”Even in the tunnel you see them and they’re strutting around, we were just so focused,” he said.”This team was another level of team, it was a lot of players that didn’t really make it massive – Ryan Nelsen was our most famous player and he was a good Premier League defender.”We had players in the Australian leagues, we had players that didn’t have clubs, some were part-timers, one worked in a bank. We had a total mixture of a team.”When we came to face Italy we weren’t scared of them, we were thinking ‘we’re going to beat you’.”Italy was the game we should have won, it should have been 1-0. Tommy Smith gave the guy a little tug in the box. If someone pulled me in the box and I’d have gone down, I wouldn’t have got that penalty, but because it’s the world champions, they see a big player fall down in the box they give a penalty.”They scored the penalty but they were never going to score, that was a 1-0 game to us and that would have taken us to the next round and then in the next round we would have faced Japan, and then you’re thinking anything’s possible.”Turning his back on the game
After two serious knee injuries, Fallon saw out his time at English non-league clubs Torquay United and Dorchester Town.He says he is grateful for his business as an alternative to having to find another role in football.Fallon added: “It was my passion as a kid, but once I became a professional it changed for me, it became a job and I saw it as a job and I was very mercenary about football.”Do I want another 18 years as a coach with the game as it is, with it being so fickle?”My coach at Torquay was sacked after four games. That’s not even an opportunity, how do you even put that into words?”I don’t see that as something you can really rely on, that’s why I wanted the business.”A lot of my friends don’t have anything, so they have to be in football and they probably hate it.”It’s a very difficult job to be in the football world, people don’t realise that. They see all the glitz and glamour and people making a lot of money, but there’s people down below that are struggling.”Follow Match of the Day on Instagram for the best photos from the world of footballSo could he one day export his ice cream to Bahrain – the country whose World Cup hopes he once dashed?”It’s hard enough getting out to the restaurants, never mind Bahrain,” he joked.”It’s like football where you set yourself a target and you try to nail it. It’s the same with business.”We don’t plan to be Häagen-Dazs, but we want to make a good living out of it.”
Source: Devon BBC