Sam Cosgrove

During the summer of 2019, @Aresnal's Leah Williamson’s profile grew dramatically.

The Arsenal centre-back was part of an England squad that made it to the semi-finals of the World Cup, falling agonisingly short against eventual champions USA before eventually finishing fourth after defeat in the third place play-off to Sweden.

With Arsenal winning the Women’s Super League in 2019, and current England manager Phil Neville saying about Williamson “You get some players who are born to captain England. She’s a leader,” it’s clear that her football career has taken off. 

But of course, this year is very different to last, and with no football taking place, Williamson is one of a number of footballers studying for AAT accountancy qualifications. Whether it’s to provide them with an alternative career should football not work out, to give an option as to what to do when they retire from football, or to work alongside football, it appears that accountancy is a strong career of choice for many footballers. Here’s three others who have taken or who are in the process of taking accounting qualifications. 

Sam Cosgrove 

Age: 23 

Position: Striker 

Current club: Aberdeen (65 games, 28 goals) 

Previous clubs: Wigan Athletic, Barrow (loan), Chorley (loan), North Ferriby United (loan); Carlisle United 

Sam had an outstanding season in the Scottish Premiership last season, with his 11 goals in 21 league matches propelling his side to fourth place. Sam was named player of the month in December 2018 for his superb contribution to the team, scoring seven goals in Aberdeen’s eight league games despite also being on the receiving end of a red card at Rangers. 

On the side however, Sam is combining his professional career with his love of numbers, through studying an Advanced diploma in Accounting with AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians). 

“I started my studies mainly as a back-up plan, in case my aspirations of being a footballer should ever fail,” says Sam, who has been studying for the past year.

“Accounting was an area I was interested in, and it could open up a wide area of job potential.” 

This isn’t the first time Sam, who studies his accounting courses from home via distance learning, has shown an aptitude for gaining skills outside his first love of football. During his scholarship at Wigan Athletic, Sam studied for an A-Level in marine biology – a move that prompted Gregor Rioch, Wigan’s academy manager, to comment: “Sam was clear that football as a career can be a short career, and we were happy to support his planning for the future, be that in the short-term or at the end of his career.”

With Cheshire-born Sam banging in the goals for Aberdeen mid-way through his second year playing north of the border prior to the Covid-19 outbreak, a short career in football hardly seems likely barring the obvious threat of a serious injury. However, he recognises that there are greater benefits from his course than simply gaining qualifications as a potential back-up career. 

“The most rewarding part of my studies is knowing that I am using my spare time productively, in order to gain new and important skills within accountancy,” Sam adds. 

“It can be a challenge, after a full day at a physically and mentally demanding job, to find the time and motivation to sit down and learn new content.  

“But at the same time, learning allows me to switch my mind away from the stresses of my job, therefore allowing me to concentrate even more when on the training ground.” 

Sam is also quick to recognise the encouragement that the Scottish PFA provides, not only to him, but to all professionals in the country who wish to improve their skillsets outside of football. 

“The SPFA has a vast network of support, ranging from 24/7 careers advice to putting on free skills sessions, such as the IT course I am currently taking,” Sam says. 

There doesn’t appear to be an immediate hurry for this well-grounded young individual to put his accountancy skills to the test in a professional environment. But Sam is safe in the knowledge that, should things not work out, there’s a career in accountancy waiting for him once he has completed his qualifications. Although marine biology isn’t totally dead in the water, either… 

Reece Styche

Age: 30 

Position: Striker 

Current club: Hereford (22 games, 3 goals) 

Previous clubs: Hednesford Town, Bromsgrove Rovers (loan); Grantham Town; Coalville Town; Shepshed Dynamo; Chasetown; Forest Green Rovers, Wycombe Wanderers (loan); Kidderminster Harriers, Tamworth (loan); Macclesfield Town; Gateshead, Nuneaton Town (loan); Tamworth; Darlington; Alfreton Town 


Reece’s footballing career is still going strong, but he now combines his on-pitch career with semi-professional Hereford, who he joined in May 2019, with a new-found role in the accounting industry. 


To date, Reece has played for 16 different clubs, most notably in the Conference with Forest Green Rovers (now a Football League club), with his strong goalscoring record leading to a loan spell in League Two with Wycombe Wanderers. 


But towards the end of his time at Forest Green, Reece took the opportunity to learn new skills in order to give him a career option once his professional playing days came to a close. 
“I started studying my AAT qualifications in 2014,” says Reece.  

“Football gave me some spare time around training, so I decided to study, starting with Level 2.” 


Reece no longer plays full-time, and he works as an Accounts Assistant at Safety Technology International, a manufacturer of fire safety products. It’s a role he’s been in since early 2017, during which time he has played for Tamworth, Darlington and Alfreton prior to his signing for Hereford. 


“I enjoy everything about my job,” adds Reece.  


“It has given me a solid foundation, and I get involved in every aspect of the finance department. I was also able to gain a pay rise when I completed my AAT studies and became a MAAT (member of AAT). 


“That, in turn, allows me to continue playing football both locally and internationally – I have five caps for Gibraltar and am hoping to build on that total.” 


And Reece is quick to suggest that other footballers similarly consider what they might do when their professional playing days are over. 


“People should have the courage and the drive to learn something different, especially with how short a football career is,” he adds. 

“Accounting was perfect because it was something I was interested in. I’m quite an advocate of people continuing their education whilst in football, but most players don’t think like that unfortunately.” 




Rebecca Fay 

Age: 24 

Position: Centre-back 

Current club: Cambridge City (74 games, 3 goals) 

Previous Clubs: Burwell Tigers, Cambridge City, Cambridge United 


Rebecca’s in her second spell with Cambridge City Ladies, who she has captained for the past three seasons. She was named AAT Apprentice of the Year in 2017. 


“I started playing competitively with Burwell Tigers when I was 11, before moving to Cambridge City at the age of 16,” explains Rebecca. 


“I then spent two years with Cambridge United before returning to Cambridge City for the start of the 2016/17 season. We won promotion to the FA Women’s National League at the end of last season.” 


Alongside her football training, Rebecca has worked hard at her accounting career. Initially doing a level 2 apprenticeship with a property investment firm, she moved to accountancy practice Streets Chartered Accountants, working in their Cambridge branch, and completed her AAT studies at Professional Diploma level. 

Rebecca has since began her ACCA studies, and is currently two exams away from becoming a chartered accountant.  


“I was able to almost immediately implement the skills I had learned in my day-to-day role in the workplace, and I was earning while I was learning on the job,” Rebecca adds. “I certainly have no regrets not going on to university, and this allowed me to do my studies and play football for my local club.” 


“Although studying to further my career prospects took priority,” says Rebecca, “I also believe that downtime was important. By sticking to my study plan I ensured I had time to both play football and socialise.” 


“Having my accountancy career is something I can work in alongside my football, and it will still be there when I retire from playing.” 


…and the major football clubs helping careers in accountancy become a reality 


It’s not just footballers themselves gaining support from their clubs for their future careers outside of football – many top football clubs are also providing support through their community foundations. 


Current European champions Liverpool FC are one of six sides delivering the Leadership Through Sport and Business (LTSB) programme through their community foundations (the others being Aston Villa, Chelsea, Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United). Successful applicants learn transferable sports coaching skills that they put into practice with the foundations, as well as gaining accounting skills, starting with AAT’s Foundation Certificate in Accounting. This leads them towards paid 18-month apprenticeships, which in turn takes them down the path to full employment. 


Patrick Edison-Graham is one of LTSB’s recent successes. He took part in the LFC Foundation’s employment programme with LTSB, achieved his accounting qualifications, and is now working as a Junior Accountant for Mazars – one of the largest accountancy firms in the country. 


“I knew that I needed to improve my CV and make myself more appealing to employers, in order to gain access to a career in accounting and finance. I had support from LTSB and the LFC Foundation to help me with careers coaching and interview practice, while I also supported the Foundation’s coaches on various schools projects in Merseyside,” says Patrick. 


“Achieving my AAT qualification, along with gaining work experience and personal development definitely helped. It gave me plenty more skills to include in my application, while I felt much more confident during the interviews.” 


The LTSB programme helped 232 bright young people from disadvantaged backgrounds find employment in the finance industry during its first five intake years (2012-16). 68% of participants came from BAME backgrounds, while 52% lived in the most deprived 30% of the country. Some 87% of those who have completed the programme remained in full-time paid employment at least six months on. 

Our contact numbers are:
General enquiries: 020 3735 2468 (UK) or +44 (0)20 3735 2468 (outside UK)
Interested in studying for AAT qualifications: 020 3735 2434 (UK) or +44 (0)20 3735 2434 (outside UK)
Current students: 020 3735 2468 (UK) or +44 (0)20 3735 2468 (outside UK)
Current F/MAATs: 020 3735 2468 (UK) or +44 (0)20 3735 2468 (outside UK)
Mailing address: 140 Aldersgate Street, London EC1A 4HY

This email (and any attachment) is confidential and intended only for the attention of the addressee(s). The views expressed in this communication may not necessarily be the views held by the Association of Accounting Technicians. Its unauthorised use, disclosure, storage or copying is not permitted. If you are not the intended recipient, please destroy all copies and notify the sender by return email. Internet email is not a secure medium. Any reply to this message could be intercepted and read by someone else. Please bear this in mind when deciding whether to send material in response to this message by email. This email (whether you are the sender or recipient) may be monitored, recorded and retained by the Association of Accounting Technicians. Email monitoring/blocking software may be used and email content may be read at any time. You have a responsibility to ensure laws are not broken when writing or forwarding emails and their contents. This footnote also confirms that this email message has been swept by Mimecast for the presence of computer viruses.

AAT - Association of Accounting Technicians
Chief Executive: Mark Farrar
AAT is a member of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC).
A company limited by guarantee (NO. 1518983) and registered as a charity (NO. 1050724)
Registered in England and Wales, Registered Office: 140 Aldersgate Street, London EC1A 4HY.

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video

#SkillsWorldLive Video: Why is it important to have diversity in apprenticeships?

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In Jan 2021, FE News had over 173,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector, putting us in the top 2,000 websites in the UK.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page