My YTS days taught me life lessons today’s young footballers still need | Liam Rosenior

For all the money and modern facilities lavished on academy players, a reminder of life’s harsher realities may help those who have to start again from scratch

It’s 10.15pm and I’m standing outside the away dressing room at Bristol City’s Ashton Gate stadium with 10 other 17-year-old YTS players. We are politely but impatiently waiting after a first-team match for the last players to leave so that we can begin sweeping and mopping the dressing-room floors and cleaning the toilets as part of our duties as apprentices. The impatience is justified as we know that if we don’t get our jobs done quickly enough we will miss the last bus back to our digs and will have to club together for taxis, which would be a financial disaster as it would eat a huge chunk out of our £45 weekly salary.

At the time we all hated these tasks, which we thought were a waste of time. “What has this got to do with football?” and “What’s the point of this?” were questions that, at that moment in our lives, it felt extremely pertinent to ask. As young players we all dreamed and believed we would be embarking on a journey that would end up with us finding fame and fortune as top Premier League players and there wasn’t one of us who didn’t believe we would make the cut.

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