I often get asked whether I want to do something or go somewhere and most of the time I respond with “I’m busy”. That always gets people wondering – what keeps me busy?
During my career my schedules were always made for me and there was never a dull moment. When I retired I kept that lifestyle going. I live by the quote “always moving, always growing”. I wake up early every morning, train and then go on to my business meetings.
Just this month I’m taking around 8 flights within a 2 week time frame.
Amsterdam is my first stop, where I host my yearly Children Charity Tournament. I invite kids of all ages and backgrounds to come to my ‘Mario Melchiot’ Football Field and spend the day playing soccer, enjoying live music from one of the top artists in Holland and eating our traditional “Vlaamse frites”.
Straight after, I will be flying into Manchester to play a charity game alongside some of my fellow Wigan players and coaches of yesteryear. The charity, Joseph’s Goal, aims to raise awareness of NKH (Non Ketotic Hyperglycinemia) and give children who suffer from the condition a better life. It’s an honour and a pleasure to play for such a good cause.
I will always cherish the excitement of one of the children’s parents when I called to let him know I’d be taking part in his charity game. It is little things like this that make me realize the beautiful game goes so much further than the football field.
After the game I’m off to London for a scheduled interview with the BBC. And later that Sunday I’ll be at Stamford Bridge watching Chelsea lift the BPL Trophy.
I never turn down an invite to watch Chelsea, but this one in particular will be special for me. It’s always beautiful to see players get rewarded after a season of hard work – especially when those players are ex-teammates.
After only a few short days in London, I’m flying on to Glasgow to be the best man at my friend’s wedding – and believe it or not – I’ll be wearing a kilt. If that doesn’t show how much he means to me, I don’t know what will.
From Glasgow I’m going to Berlin to watch Barcelona play Juventus. I still have mixed emotions when it comes to the Champions League final. I’m always reminded of my time playing for Ajax, and the day we lost the final against Juventus. It was a sad day, although softened by the fact it was my first time meeting Vialli. I went to ask him for his shirt but since he had already given it away, he took off his shorts and said I should keep them.
Two quick years later I got the call from Vialli to join Chelsea, on the one condition that I gave him his pants back.
I never did. But I still managed to play for five straight years.
From Berlin it’s a one way to Las Vegas, where I’ll be holding a Q&A with American Chelsea fans. I’ll also get to play referee for once – blowing the whistle for one of their games. We mutually agreed that it’d be best I take the referee position, (one that I never liked) instead of taking on a myriad of excited fans.
For my wellness and health, I believe it’s for the best.