When injury forced professional footballer Scott Ward to retire, he feared he had been consigned to the scrapheap.

Worse still, Scott's career-ending injury came as former club Crawley Town spent six months in administration. That meant six months without being paid.

To make ends meet the former goalkeeper took a job as a binman.

"I needed to earn money," says Scott, 37, who started his career at Luton Town and had spells at Plymouth Argyle, Crawley Town and Coventry City.

"I was working in the local area where I grew up and while my brothers Elliott and Darren were playing in the Premier League, so it was a difficult time."

Those hard times lasted three years as Scott was totally unprepared for life after football, having signed his first professional contract straight out of school at 16.

"I was lost," says Scott "I didn't know what my objective was anymore. I felt I had nobody to talk to."

It was only when he met his wife, Emily, who was doing a Business Studies degree part-time while holding down a full-time job, that he realised education could transform his life.

He earned an MBA from Warwick Business School   and put his personal experience to good use by devoting his dissertation to researching the transition out of sport and the impact it has on athletes.

It led to a position at KPMG, where he designed a programme to give athletes from all sports the support they need emotionally, mentally and practically, to prepare for life in the ‘real world'.

Scott says: "Sport is fantastic and I am very lucky to have been part of it, but my body was broken after football. I needed spinal implants, cardiac surgery, and my hips needed reshaping."

"I wanted to help other athletes facing similar challenges."

"Research shows the mourning period when an athlete's career ends can last for two to 10 years. Very few earn enough money to set themselves up for life. The majority need to find another career, another identity and that can be very hard with no support.

"We need to take preventative action instead of hoping an athlete will speak out in an industry where such vulnerability is frowned upon.

It is not just athletes who enjoyed a long sporting career who need help to adapt.

The money and acclaim offered by most sports is now so vast that aspiring athletes and their parents will make huge sacrifices to pursue their dream.

The stakes are huge and many will not make it at the highest level. Golf has the highest fall-out rate, 97 per cent drop out by 25, but the average in all sports in 95 per cent.

Scott says: "Parents need educating on the risks of the industry to understand the challenges their son or daughter will face and the family as a whole.

"Whatever athletes achieve they should celebrate their sporting career, but their identity should not be controlled by what they do on the track or pitch.

"By helping them to understand their value as a person first we are trying to eliminate that cliff edge when they come out of sport."