When the opportunity to get the secrets to ex Jamaican international footballer Paul Hall’s success came along, we jumped at the chance. Still a coach Queens Park Rangers (QPR), he and his partner Lizzie Liebenhals have set up their own boutique PR and events business, Halls & Halls
As a family friend who made his international debut for the Reggae Boyz in 1997 and scored an impressive 15 goals in the 1998 World Cup in France, I am fortunate to able to ask Paul about his footballing career which spans 29 years, and the ultimate ‘taboo’ subject of just how tough it is when your playing career stops. Unlike many others, Paul had the foresight to learn while ‘on the job’ and plan his move into retirement, “I started in 1988 as a youth trainee at 16. This was a valuable time for me. This time taught me everything I needed to know about the hazardous life of football. I learned so many lessons within the first few years of my career. I learned that football can be a ruthless business, just like in any other business. It is a competitive world in which there are many people competing for few prizes.”
What has been your career high?
There are more lows than highs in football, however the highs tremendously outweigh the lows. The biggest high I remember was signing my first professional contract. I can still remember the feeling of the 1st team manager telling me that I’ve been successful in earning a professional contract. The feeling is still something I cannot articulate when asked. It was a feeling of an achievement I dreamt of since I was a little boy. That feeling of that first contract always spurred me onto achieving another contract and so on. This feeling amongst many others, gave me the motivation to be the best professional I could be. In life, football or business, there has to be a driving motivation to achieve success. There always has to be a goal that drives determination. Even in my coaching, each day I get my players to write down two goals that they want to achieve towards their big goal. This helps them to practice purposely.
And your low point?
A low point was when I had to retire at the end of my career and I found myself out of work and unemployable. This was a tough period for me as I was used to receiving feedback from supporters in the stands, getting well paid for kicking a ball around, and working 3 hour days! This soon turned into being unemployed and looking for work and having no real idea or direction of where to go. I had to re-educate and learn new skills. This is a typically tough time for a retired footballer. This is where the demons can really show themselves. It was the strength of character that I had learned to have in football – dealing with the pressures of the game – that pulled me through. I went and got a job as a teacher in a college, studied Sports Journalism, and coached part-time. I understood that I had to retrain myself and learn new skills. Mentally I got through it by keeping myself busy and never stagnating. I think I would’ve started to decay if I had taken the choice to feel sorry for myself and sit at home.
All the skills that I have picked up from the courses and jobs I’d taken have helped me become a great teacher and coach. I have picked up skills from journalism that will prepare me for the next stage of my life and career. I am now one of an exciting group of young coaches in England. I honestly believe that my drive and determination to succeed whilst out of work, has helped me succeed as a coach.
You played in the world cup for Jamaica…
I was tremendously fortunate to play in the 1998 World Cup which was in France. The experience will live in my memory forever. The tournament for us was more of a celebration of getting there. The achievement was the fact that with such a hugely participated sport, a country of 2.6 million people managed to get a team there – This has never been done in Jamaica before or since!
We were very close as a team. We spent a lot of time together. We toured many countries and went on what one could only call it a roadshow of games. This enabled us to get really close as a team. We did many team bonding exercises. What really made us motivated as a team though was a mixture of things. No-one in the squad were millionaires. There wasn’t a member of the team that wasn’t prepared to run through a brick wall for the other. The last and most telling fact that this was an ageing squad, and we knew that this would be our first, and last World Cup. We were motivated. Playing well as a team was the easy part for us. We were like brothers. We had a continuity about us and kept the same squad. We kept our own standards and policed each other. We communicated with each other well.
And life after football?
I could’ve prepared better for life after football. When football finishes, it’s easy to think that you have money in the bank saved. However, this money soon runs out. As it’s too easy to live in the lifestyle you’re accustomed to. It soon runs low. In the final few years of my career. I gained my A Licence coaching badge and a Degree in Sports Writing and Journalism. Although I had these, and would advise any current player to get an education whilst they are still playing. I don’t think that there’s anything that can prepare you for life after football.
Whom do you most admire and why?
I most admire my mother for raising 3 children as a single parent. Instilling manners and responsibility into us, which we in turn have instilled into our children. My mother is a strong woman who taught me how to be a man. She gave me values that I live by today.
You are now a Director of Halls & Halls. What does this role entail?
My partner, Lizzie and I run a boutique events and PR company that not only delivers outstanding events at all levels, but also helps bring companies and corporate hospitality brands together with sports stars and celebrities. My role is advisory, social media engagement and I’m there for my global contacts. I am a mouthpiece for the footballing industry on a global scale. Whilst I’m not involved in the day-to-day operations – that’s Lizzie and her team – I am heavily involved in the strategy across all of the business. I enjoy the social media interaction. Being part of something where we are respected in an industry that cuts across sports, music and celebrity is exciting for me.
What do you look out for in your team on and off the pitch today?
People with an inner ability to be able to set goals and achieve them. I like those who come to work with an inner drive to want to be better than yesterday. This is so important in the competitive world. The right mindset is key for people who want to become the best. I look for good people. I would rather a second-rate footballer, that is a first-rate person, than the other way around. Team building for me is about having good people.
What is the one thing that you have learnt since starting Halls & Halls that you wish you had thought of right at the start?
The power of social media has become a monster. This is an area that gets bigger and bigger. The amount of credibility you could get through a tweet is potentially enormous.
What is the one piece of advice that were given during your football career that you still stand by today?
Hard work is key to achieving anything you want to achieve. Alan Ball, a World Cup winner with England in 1966, gave me a piece of advice that has stayed with me until this day. Just before I left to travel to play in the 1998 World Cup in France he said, ‘enjoy it son, don’t let it pass you by.’ I didn’t understand it at the time why he said that, but I did as soon as the tournament was over. He simply wanted me to enjoy the moment as it came and went in a flash.
To read more about other successful business owners, read our article with Mark Azzam here.
For more information on Halls & Halls, please email, Paul@hallsandhalls.com
You can follow them on Twitter @hallsnhalls and Instagram @ Halls and Hall
Editor in chief