I was my football club's youngest-ever player but suddenly QUIT at 20 – now I have a very different career | The Sun

JOE HANCOTT swapped football for the classroom just four years after making his senior debut aged 16 and 161 days.

The left-back has his name written in the Portsmouth record books after featuring in an EFL Trophy match against Fulham's Under-21s in 2017.

He became the club's youngest-ever player a week before he was due to collect his GCSE results.

His appearance smashed the record held by now Premier League manager Gary O'Neil.

Hancott, who joined the club aged eight, was subbed on in the game by experienced boss Kenny Jackett and he went on to make a further three appearances for Pompey.

But just four years after bursting onto the scene, he fell out of love with the beautiful game and no longer plays professionally.



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The 22-year-old was hit by a season-ending ACL injuries when in pre-season training with Portsmouth and then again during his subsequent recoveries on loan at Bognor Regis and Basingstoke.

His scholarship at Fratton Park was initially extended before his release in 2021.

It took a toll on Hancott and he simply had enough of trying to make it as a professional footballer despite being snapped up by Bognor Regis on a permanent deal.

The disillusioned wonderkid hung up his boots at the age of 20 and decided to try to achieve his ambitions of becoming a teacher.

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Hancott explained to The News: "I wanted to be out of it. Not Pompey as a club, professional football as a whole. I couldn’t wait.

"Some people would say, 'What the hell?', but I fell out of love with it completely.

"When I say fell out of love, weirdly I still loved watching it, I loved watching the Premier League and my club Tottenham, watching the Football League and my mates performing at non-league level.

"But I didn’t like playing it at the time.

"It could be down to pressure or maybe going through a 12-year academy process had drained that fun out of me.

"Perhaps it was due to commuting from the Isle of Wight four times a week to train or play, with your body developing and growing yet constantly getting battered on different playing surfaces.

"Or you’ve tried to come back from injury and, yet again, it hasn’t worked out, so you think: 'That’s not for me any more'.

"Pompey kept extending my contract because they wanted to help me get back to full fitness, but it got to the point where I wasn’t fussed about playing professional football anymore – and I told them that."

During his rehab following the ACL injuries, Hancott began to look at forging a path into teaching.

He enrolled on an Open University course in sport and business management at Salford University back in 2020.

And just six months in, he had made his mind up and quit football.

Hancott initially worked in a primary school before landing his dream job two years ago at his former secondary in Ryde as a PE teacher.

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Now free from the pressure of the academy, he is back playing with Isle of Wight team Newport and now Cowes Sports.

Both are in the Wessex Football League, which is the ninth tier of the English pyramid.

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