A former Newcastle United and Sunderland footballer has marked his retirement from the pitch by moving into the world of business.
Frenchman Louis Saha, who played for Manchester United, Fulham and France in between brief spells at the two main North East clubs, says he is more proud of his new business than any of his on-field contributions.
The business, launched earlier this year alongside former FC Köln defender Dieter Prestin, is designed to protect professional football players and athletes from financial losses.
It was launched after the partners learned that 50% of footballers go bankrupt once their career ends.
“I was earning good money as a sportsman,” said Saha. “But what you have to remember is that when you stop you stop receiving money very suddenly. And you also receive minus 20% because of bills.
Saha, a father-of-three who now lives in the south of France, says Axis is headquartered in London but also has an office in Luxembourg.
“We are off the ground now as a business,” he added. “This platform will bring education to players. We help players, clubs and agents cope with complex matters. And we have designed our systems in a way that an 18-year-old boy can use.
“The bottom line is that we don’t want 50% of players going bankrupt after their career, because they didn’t invest properly, so this is my thing now, full-time.”
Saha, who played for several of Europe’s top clubs, said the transition to a post-playing career wasn’t easy.
He also said the idea of Axis began taking shape just over two years ago while he was writing his book Thinking inside the box.
“The first few months after stopping playing I saw my friends still playing - that was tough,” added Saha. “But my project here is so true and I’m now more proud at what I’m doing now than I was when I was on the field.
“I believe in this and am very happy to have been here at Soccerex to show some of what we do.
“It’s not only footballers we target. We target all professional athletes in any sport. We are providing services for the players and agents too, insurance, banking, lots. You need to trust someone to help you and we can do that.”
Saha played 11 games for Newcastle United during a loan spell in 1999, scoring one goal. After then playing for Fulham, Manchester United, Everton and Tottenham Hotspur, he signed for Sunderland in 2012 but only played 11 games.