Brent Griffiths walked away from professional football in 2017 at the age of just 26 and for the past three years has began to build an impressive career in real estate.
But the former A-League defender admits he is unsure if he ever fulfilled his full potential in the beautiful game.
Born in England, Griffiths was raised in Perth. The younger brother of Melbourne City midfielder Rostyn, the pair sent several years together in the academy of Blackburn Rovers before Brent linked with Perth Glory in 2008.
The centre back debuted for Perth Glory in 2010 and went on to have spells at Wellington Phoenix, Central Coast Mariners and with Penang in Malaysia. He was a member of Graham Arnold’s Mariners squad that won the grand final in 2013.
But it was after his brief stint in south-east Asia that he decided on early retirement and a drastic career change.
“I was playing in Malaysia and was earning good, tax-free money, but the league standard was poor, and I was simply unfulfilled,” Griffiths told The World Game.
“I met my now wife late 2016 and kind of had a light bulb moment. I did have a second run in 2017 in Indonesia. I signed the contract but wasn’t allowed to play. I took it to FIFA with the PFA’s support and won the case, which essentially funded my retirement.
“It’s a different enjoyment from playing football, but this path has allowed me to start a family, buy houses, set groundworks in Perth and enjoy a lifestyle that is difficult to be achieved when you’re dictated by the league schedules or training sessions.”
Asked if it was hard to give the game away at such a young age, the 30-year-old said: “The short answer is yes, I am a firm believer though that nothing lasts forever and the decision to transition was the right decision for me. The person I was at 10 when I decided to play football professionally is a light-year away from the person I am now.
“I think I would’ve perhaps liked to have been pushier to coaches and environments and less ‘happy’ to be a team player in some instances.
“It’s a double-edged sword because the year we won the A-league with Mariners the team comradery was the best I’ve ever seen, but I didn’t play many games which were to the detriment of my career, I regret not playing as much as I could’ve.
“The game had changed a lot since when I started, so it’s difficult to regret something particular because my decisions led me to have the career I did, whether I fulfilled my potential is a tougher question to ask.
“I look back at my career with many mixed emotions, my time in each country and club was such an integral part of my personal growth as a person that I often wonder how did I do that given the situation.
“I had some amazing experiences and personal highlights, like playing with the youngest-ever Asian Champions League team in Korea, but also some extremely low points which I try not to dwell on because I can’t change the past.
“All in all, I am happy with the career I had because it led me to where I am today.”
These days Griffiths is based in his hometown of Perth as a commercial sales and leasing consultant at firm Burgess Rawson. He first got into the real estate world through his father and was assisted into the industry by the PFA.
“My father was involved in property as both a builder and developer in small to medium-size projects such as townhouses, apartments and mixed-use developments,” he said.
“Rostyn and I have always been involved in his projects, from painting fences to cleaning rubbish off sites as children, to lending an ear and investing in some projects. I worked with the PFA via a People2People placement that eventually landed me in commercial real estate through the old Perth Glory owner’s nephew.
“I really enjoy the freedom I’m given in lieu of the regimental athlete lifestyle, and it ticks the three boxes I set out four years ago when transitioning from football of complexity, autonomy and reward for effort.
“I knew like anything in life that I had to stick it out for the rewards to be achieved as it was a depressed market when I first started, however, the WA economy has improved considerably and that time has now come.”
Griffiths has not disconnected from football completely and for the past three seasons has played in the semi-professional ranks in the NPL with Bayswater City. Next year the centre back plans to turn out for Gwelup Croatia.
“After nearly three years with Bayswater it was time for a change, and I had some amazing achievements with them in winning the treble in 2017,” he explained.
“But I’ve decided I needed a change and wish them the best for the future. This season I decided to sign for Gwelup Croatia, which is a great family club and look to challenge for the NPL title this year.
“I’m the oldest in the team so having the benefit of youth was certainly a clincher in the decision, and I look forward to winning some silverware.”
Griffiths has also earned his Senior C License badge, but as of now has no plans to head into coaching.
“I would like to get involved in some capacity one day, but I’m still enjoying lacing the boots up and being the veteran in the team for a change,” he said.