The Brave Front - Francis Benali
Mental health,  podcast,  The Brave Front

The Brave Front Episode 2 – Francis Benali MBE

Having spent 20 years on the books at Southampton Football Club, Francis ‘Franny’ Benali has rightly earned ‘legend’ status amongst Saints fans. 

Since retiring, however, he has gone on to raise over £1.4million for charity by undertaking three ultra endurance challenges that pushed his mind and body beyond breaking point. In our exclusive interview, Franny talks about the mental strength needed to dedicate yourself to football and to take on seemingly impossible challenges. 

Convinced that there is something we can all learn by living outside of our comfort zone, his advice could help us all to reconsider what we value and how we view our own mental wellbeing.

How to listen

Full transcript

00:00:07 Tim

Hello, how you doing? Welcome to the brave front, a new podcast with a single purpose to talk about men’s mental health. My name is Tim Bannon. And although I’m not a doctor.

00:00:20 Tim

Psychologist or academic? I’ve been fascinated by the subject of men’s mental health for.

00:00:24 Tim

It’s back. In 2017, a cancer diagnosis turned my life on its head and turned my head inside out for the first time, my own mental health was truly tested, and ever since then I felt a deeper appreciation of the mental health challenges faced by many men today. So in an effort to keep the conversation going beyond the mental health awareness days, weeks and months.

00:00:46 Tim

I want this podcast to showcase inspirational people with personalities from all walks of life across the country who have lived, experience and real life stories to share of their mental health journeys, as well as to folks who are far cleverer than I am who can shed light on every dark corner when it comes to the subject of men’s mental health.

00:01:04 Tim

And in this episode, I’m delighted to welcome Francis Benali MBE to the show, a former professional football player who has undoubtedly earned himself the status of legend amongst Southampton fans following a career at the South Coast club that spanned 16 years, almost 400 games? Yes, and just one solitary goal.

00:01:24 Tim

He’s also a man who, having hung up his playing boots, now gives inspirational talks across the UK on achieving your dreams and realising your potential.

00:01:33 Tim

By taking the opportunity to step outside of your comfort zone, and if that wasn’t enough, he’s also rightly being awarded an MBE after raising over £1.4 million for charity following a series of physical challenges that pushed his body and his spirits beyond breaking point. But much more about that later on.

00:01:52 Tim

I wanted to talk to ***** after I heard him speak at a Sports Awards event at my children’s school earlier this year. At that event, he captivated an audience of over 400 young people, recalling the story of his journey in football, the struggles and sacrifices he made and the sheer hard work and determination it took to achieve his dream.

00:02:12 Tim

Throughout my own career, I’ve been fortunate enough to interview Elite sports men and women from a variety of different sports, and every time I do so, I am struck by their dedication and laser focus commitment to realising their goals. To me, they all seem almost superhuman, like they possess a kind of mental strength and resilience, but the rest of us can only dream of.

00:02:33 Tim

By the time they play in the Premier League, get behind the wheel of a Formula One car step onto Centre Court or tee off at the open. They have 10s if not hundreds of thousands of hours of practise and training behind them. They have gone up at the crack of dawn everyday. They have approached every training session with the same fierce determination to get better. They stayed behind after training.

00:02:54 Tim

Perfect. The smallest thing they’ve overcome injuries, setbacks and disappointments. They’ve had to deal with the pain of losing in order to appreciate the joy of winning. And they’ve made the kind of sacrifices that would have set them apart from their friends and their peers.


Of course, professional.

00:03:09 Tim

Sportsmen and women are not immune to poor.

00:03:11 Tim

Mental health themselves.

00:03:13 Tim

But choosing to dedicate your life to one thing, often from the youngest of ages, takes some mental strength that I’m convinced the rest of us can learn a huge amount from.

00:03:22 Tim

So I hope that over the coming weeks and.

00:03:24 Tim

Months we can welcome a.

00:03:25 Tim

Few more sporting heroes to the brave front.

00:03:28 Tim

And that, just like today’s guest Franny Benali, we can all take a bit of that Premier League mental magic into our own lives.

00:03:41 Tim

*****, welcome. Thank you for joining us on the podcast. Lovely to see you. Great to have you.

00:03:44 Tim

As a guest on the show, how are you? How’s things?

00:03:46 Franny

Hey, Tim. Yeah, I’m really well. Thank you. Brilliant to join you. And I guess part of my my happiness at this particular moment in time is that I’ve literally just become a grandfather for the first time, so.

00:04:01 Franny

Yeah, really excited. That’s big, big news for our family. So yeah, there’s a new little little banali boy in the family, which is, you know, just a few days.

00:04:10 Franny

Old now how does?

00:04:11 Tim

It feel to be a granddad.

00:04:14 Franny

Yeah, yeah, I think.

00:04:15 Franny

One of the questions most people ask isn’t it? We don’t feel like a granddad in, in, in many ways, you know, I think all of us in our, in our minds, even if it’s not necessarily our bodies, you know, we still feel that that youngster inside of us don’t we? So yeah, but really, really looking forward to.


Yeah, yeah.

00:04:33 Franny

You know what this next chapter I guess, will will bring moving forward.

00:04:37 Tim

Circle of life stuff, isn’t it? When it when it, when it sort of comes around at that amazing, fantastic. Well, congratulations. Tell us where we find you today. I’m looking. I can see you on on the call here. I can see some shirts behind you. You’re obviously at home, got surrounded by some Southampton memorabilia.

00:04:49 Franny

And where are you at the where we find you? Yeah, I’m. I’m in Southampton, you know, Southampton is where I was born and raised, Tim. I’ve lived here.

00:04:57 Franny

My entire life obviously played for.

00:05:00 Franny

Southampton Football Club from the the sort of mid 80s through to 2000 and three 2004. So yeah, I had a 20 year association with with my hometown club and played nearly 400 appearances over that that that period. So yeah, very much a big part of me and.

00:05:20 Franny

You know the the football club is is sort of central quite often to communities and things, isn’t it? And it’s no different here in Southampton. So yeah, I’m. I’m sat in my office at at home as you can.

00:05:30 Franny

Mentioned few shirts around. I don’t really have a huge amount of memorabilia around the house, but just I think I can get away with it in in in the the the office I’m allowed to put a few bits up.

00:05:39 Tim

Excellent, excellent, excellent. Now I mean in football, the term legend has bounced around a lot. You hear it, you hear it used a lot, but for someone who’s spent as long as you have been with with one club, do you feel comfortable being being called a legend?

00:05:54 Franny

A little bit. I mean it’s it’s meant in the best way possible. I know. And and it’s it, you know I’m I’m very grateful and humbled by, you know, whenever it’s used as a term. But I guess there’s there’s there’s some a little small element of it that that makes you feel like oh you know.

00:06:12 Franny

Because I I never saw myself as the best player.

00:06:15 Franny

Them over the years and and, you know quite often that that sort of recognition towards, you know, former players is is often put towards players that were you know very, very good in their playing days and you know I was I was pretty solid and reliable and gave everything. But you know I certainly wasn’t the best of players in many ways.

00:06:37 Tim

Who are the legends that you look up to then?

00:06:38 Tim

Who are your legends? Ohh well.

00:06:40 Franny

As as a boy, I mean the Southampton side that I I sort of grew up with in, in my younger days at school was, you know, filled with the likes of Kevin, Kevin Keegan, Alan Ball.

00:06:51 Franny

Mick Shannon, amongst many others and you know I in the playground. You know, I I I sort of had a a soft spot for for Liverpool as well. They they were sort of pretty much the team of the 70s and early 80s weren’t they. So you know I I thought I was Kenny Dalgleish in the playground as a young boy but yeah, I mean there’s there’s there’s so many what you.

00:07:11 Franny

They would call Legends of the game certainly. And yeah, I I certainly as a young man, a young boy, aspired to to be like many of those players that had gone.

00:07:20 Franny

For me.

00:07:20 Tim

Yeah, absolutely. But listen, I’m absolutely delighted to have you on the show. It’s been, you know, it’s fantastic to see you and we we have. Well, I’ve, I’ve, I’ve seen you before. We we’ve not met in person before, but you came to my son’s school a few weeks ago when he had a a sports presentation there. And you, you spoke to all the kids in, in that hall. And as a lot of them.

00:07:37 Tim

I think there’s 400 odd kids in in that hall and.

00:07:39 Franny

Big event was.

00:07:40 Tim

It was a big event. Yeah. And, you know, it’s a really inspirational talk that you gave and something that came across to me was that’s clearly something that that you really enjoyed those kind of events and talking.

00:07:48 Tim

To kids in.

00:07:48 Tim

That way, clearly something that.

00:07:50 Tim

That that you love and it comes across in in when you’re.

00:07:53 Franny

Yeah. Well, thanks for that, Tim. I mean it’s it’s nice that you’ve sort of picked up on that really because you’re, you’re right, I I get great pleasure from hopefully sort of addressing an audience whether that you know, bit of corporate, workplace, sports teams, but especially sort of younger audiences where it might be schools, colleges.

00:08:13 Franny

Universities in the hope that just by talking about my experiences through life.

00:08:20 Franny

Uh, growing up, even before football, uh, my career in professional football and then in more recent years sort of taking on the ultra endurance challenges and raising, you know, a sum of money for a great cause was a a big driving factor for me. And and hopefully those experiences and talking about those, those struggles and difficulties.

00:08:40 Franny

Is in all the things that every single one of us goes through when we’re trying to achieve something in our lives with us on a personal level or a professional level and and how you know what we’re capable of. And just by talking about that, especially to young audiences as as you, you, you heard that night. I love the idea of hopefully.

00:09:00 Franny

Just even if it’s one person leaves the event on that evening, you know, inspired or take something from what they’ve heard me talking about to, you know, sort of spin it in a a positive way in their own lives then, you know, I I I love.

00:09:15 Franny

That I I like the idea of.

00:09:16 Franny

During the the life journey that I’ve experienced and and and those experiences within that my my time frame to to to hopefully help other people. You know I I get great pleasure from that.

00:09:30 Tim

I’d like to talk to you about both sides of of what you talk about the football and also the the endurance challenges you’re taking, which which blew my mind, by the way, an incredible, incredible challenges that you as a as a runner myself, I can’t comprehend, you know, those lengths that you’ve gone to, which is incredible. We’ll come.

00:09:45 Tim

On to that.

00:09:45 Tim

In a little bit, but take.

00:09:47 Tim

Us back, if you will, to to when you were a kid yourself and you.

00:09:50 Tim

We were growing.

00:09:50 Tim

Up was trying to trying to get into your mindset in terms of your drive and your ambition and your focus. We was football something that you always knew you wanted to do from, from your earliest memory and what was that drive like to to to achieve and and to and to push on?

00:10:06 Franny

Yeah. When I when I look back and think of how I was and and and those feelings and those memories that I have as a, you know, even a very, very young boy. You’re right. Football was just my my love and passion. You know, I would always be kicking the ball around whether.

00:10:20 Franny

I was in my home and then being told to to get outside and you know and and and kick a ball around in the street, you know, rather.

00:10:27 Tim

Than in the.

00:10:28 Franny

House, you know it is. It always was always something that I I I had a passion for and remember, you know we I’m of an age where you know football never got the the the coverage that we see on the televisions now you know there was probably.

00:10:41 Franny

In those early days, maybe a, you know, a a television programme once a week on a Saturday where you could actually watch games or highlights of football. So there wasn’t really the, the the, the knowledge or the coverage that would have inspired me as a youngster. But I just always was drawn to, to.

00:10:56 Franny

Playing football in.

00:10:58 Franny

I guess that that drive and ambition to want to to succeed, that the sport that I wanted to go into was maybe partly made-up of my my background personally as well. You know, I I was adopted as a a baby and and you know my my adopted parents split when I was a baby in arms.

00:11:15 Franny

So it was my.

00:11:16 Franny

My mother that that raised me with with my grandfather.

00:11:19 Franny

A2 bedroom flat, which is literally a stone’s throw away from Southampton Football Club Stadium, now St. Mary’s. And yeah I I guess.

00:11:28 Franny

You know.

00:11:30 Franny

It’s maybe a lot more common now you know, sort of children come from, you know, homes, where their parents split up. But, you know, back when I was growing up, it wasn’t really that such a big thing necessarily. So I always felt difference the wrong word. But, you know, I I I knew that I I didn’t come from what was the traditional sort of family.

00:11:50 Franny

Background with, you know, a mom and a dad and and being an only child as well, you know there.

00:11:56 Franny

There’s, you know, quite often, you know that there’s a lot of my friends had siblings and, you know, I had to, you know, amuse myself. And quite often that meant kicking the ball around or going to play with.

00:12:07 Franny

My my friends.

00:12:08 Tim

Did you feel that as a kid and as you were growing up and as you as you were were sort of?

00:12:11 Tim

Striving to achieve and to to to progress in your foot. Or did you feel you had to make sacrifices as a youngster?

00:12:18 Tim

In terms of perhaps compared to what your friends and peers might have?

00:12:21 Tim

Been doing at the time.

00:12:22 Franny

Yeah, I I I quickly realised as a youngster you know, I I I knew where I was very focused even as a.

00:12:28 Franny

A young man, you know, a teenager. Where I I wanted to play professional football. You know that. That was my one goal and ambition. You know, I wasn’t great.

00:12:36 Franny

Academically, at school.

00:12:39 Franny

But you know, once I became officially connected with the the football club, Southampton at 14 years of age, you know they they were very strong on connecting with the school that I was at.

00:12:48 Franny

And and not just me, but you know any players that they signed on their books to to make sure that they were putting in the effort still on the academic subjects and not just focusing on football completely. But I I found that difficult because, you know, I was just so focused and driven on becoming a a football player that.

00:13:05 Franny

You know, it was almost like nothing else mattered to me in my life, and in many ways. But yeah, I I just think those, you know, those qualities of of sort of being determined and growing up and realising that I had to to to sort of dedicate myself to, to give myself the best chance possible. And. And you mentioned it in a way of maybe.

00:13:25 Franny

Sacrifices I I didn’t really see it as a sacrifice, but you know I when I I speak to audiences, I probably said it at.

00:13:31 Franny

The sports awards.

00:13:33 Franny

That you’re at him. But you know I’ve. I’ve never been drunk in my life, even to this day, I don’t drink. I’ve never smoked. I’ve never done anything that I saw would affect my body physically to stop me performing at the the the best level that I could perform at. And you know, fitness and my lifestyle is, you know, it’s always been a very big factor for me and especially during my playing.

00:13:53 Franny

Career so. So you could say sort of. When I played in an era where, you know, drinking and football is quite a culture, you know, I I was very different, maybe a little bit more like a modern day footballer in in many ways or an athlete.

00:14:07 Tim

Oscar, I was gonna say it’s like that and it struck me.

00:14:09 Tim

In your talk at at the school that that is that you know that that as you say not not having touched a drop in in your life at despite playing at a time when the drinking culture was was rife across football I imagine and and and you know in those.

00:14:23 Tim

In the in the.

00:14:24 Tim

Early 90s and and and so on especially.

00:14:27 Tim

Did that sort of single you out?

00:14:29 Tim

Did that? Did did. Did you? Were you amongst like minded peers at the time or did did you did it take real kind of resilience on your part and sort of mental strength to to sort of to not go to the parties and to not do the things that some of your peers might have been doing at that time?

00:14:45 Franny

I I was feeling far between, but it yeah, I was certainly outnumbered and quite often just the only one. But there were a few others through the course of my career that, you know, were sort of similar to me, you know, teetotal and.

00:14:59 Franny

But it it.

00:15:00 Franny

Wasn’t enough for Tim, to be honest.

00:15:02 Franny

You know I it.

00:15:03 Franny

Very quickly just became because I was so.

00:15:05 Franny

I I saw it as a big part of.

00:15:08 Franny

Realising my dream and ambition. And then when I reached the level of becoming a professional, I then wanted to go to the next level again and you know, play on a regular basis and then all of a sudden, you know, the other things in your life come into it like, you know, I settled down at a young age with my wife and, you know, we had a young family and, you know.

00:15:26 Franny

We all have those bills and expenses, and even as a footballer.

00:15:28 Franny

Back in that time, you know, I may be earning sort of decent money, but still had a mortgage to pay and all those outgoings that we all have.

00:15:35 Franny

So there was always the the work and the concentration and the effort to, you know, stay in the team, keep burning contracts and wanting ultimately to stay at my.

00:15:45 Franny

Hometown club because?

00:15:46 Franny

That was a big factor as well. You know, I never wanted to to leave Southampton or leave my my club and certainly not. I root my family when the when the children.

00:15:55 Franny

And along as well.

00:15:56 Tim

And you know during during that time that thought, those formative years, when you were, when you were sort of growing in football and and working your way up the ranks as it were, were were your mum and your granddad supported and the rest of your family, were they 100% behind you.


Do you know?

00:16:09 Franny

There was there was a real dynamic in my family that my my mum had a long term boyfriend who was was like a father figure for me in many ways. But he was really into his fitness and he was very supportive and you know, sort of like just basically spending time. It was almost like a a parent, you know, like just.

00:16:29 Franny

Enjoyed spending time with him, but quite often time with him would have been.

00:16:33 Franny

You know, if it wasn’t just chilling out, it would have been, you know, doing something like active it not, not necessarily working out or training or playing football, but you know, maybe just playing some badminton or table tennis or something like that, you know, and and sort of living a healthy lifestyle. You know, I my my my home.

00:16:53 Franny

Circumstances where you know both my my mum and my grandfather and and lodger that we had at our house for a while, you know, were were were sort of quite heavy smoke.

00:17:03 Franny

And you know, and my grandma would go to the the pub and and enjoy a drink and things like that. So yeah, I I I knew there was that side of life that I I didn’t want to to to really entertain and you know, because it was often around me growing up as a youngster and and in many ways I didn’t like it so yeah it wasn’t wasn’t.

00:17:22 Franny

Really a difficult decision.

00:17:23 Franny

I mean not to to be partying or drinking and going out all the time. You know, I was just so focused on on, you know, being the best that I could be and and giving myself that chance to to reach the heights that I wanted to.

00:17:35 Tim

How did you take that that mentality into obviously talked about your, you know your your, your family there and your your mum?

00:17:42 Tim

And your your.

00:17:43 Tim

Your grandfather. How did you you know, when you look back on it now, how did you take lessons you learned then, perhaps. And throughout your playing career and your life into fatherhood yourself, when you became a, when you became a dad?

00:17:54 Franny

Oh, it’s it’s it’s moulded me massively Tim. You know my my experience and and I don’t think that’s just you know I’m I’m not unusual in that sense. I I think every single one of us are are are sort of moulded and.

00:18:06 Franny

You know, sort of touched in one way or another through our our our experiences, especially when we’re younger and and that was no different for me. You know I what I saw was I I think at a really young age I I I knew how I wanted to be as a you know hopefully in the future as a father and as a husband and and as just as a friend and someone who who wanted to.

00:18:28 Franny

To to do good good deeds. If you like. You know, I was raised with, you know, discipline and you know, sort of being respectful and and having manners and things like that. So, you know, those are all big things that that I’ve taken into to to my life as an adult, I think and and hopefully sort of pass that on to our children. But yeah, FAM family is.

00:18:48 Franny

Number one, you know I say I’ve got two families. There’s my my football family. But there’s my, my, you know, first and foremost, you know, immediate family, which are the world to me and and it’s, you know, because of them and that foundation that have, you know, been married to Karen for 31 years.

00:19:06 Franny

Now we’ve got two children, a son and a daughter, Luke and Kenzie, and you know a grandfather. As I mentioned at the the beginning of this, this, this programme, it’s yeah, you know that that is my, my solid foundation and everything that I’ve done and achieved is is really apart from maybe those early years when I was very focused as a young man.

00:19:26 Franny

Growing up individually just seems to have solidified and and and made been made stronger with with my family.

00:19:32 Tim

That’s that’s that’s that’s that’s great to hear and it’s lovely to to see that that’s that’s something obviously is so vitally important to you and as is Southampton and I know it runs through your veins and this is probably a question I’ve been asked 1000 times, but.

00:19:45 Tim

Do you have a particular highlight when you look back?

00:19:47 Tim

On your career, I know.

00:19:48 Tim

You you know, the one goal I think you said in the in the talk, but that aside, well that might be the that, I don’t know. Tell me what what when you look back what was what was the highlight, what’s the one thing?

00:19:58 Tim

You think? Yeah, that’s that’s what I’m most proud of.

00:20:00 Franny

You know clearly, Tim the the the one goal in the near.

00:20:04 Franny

400 games.

00:20:05 Franny

Is, is, is is a memorable moment for sure, but genuinely I I could talk probably for an hour on on the highlights and the memories that I had.

00:20:14 Franny

That that was just amazing. I I guess ultimately, you know to be paid to do something that I’d always loved doing and had a passion for was just the best thing ever. You know, I wouldn’t have changed it for the world. And yeah, it’s it’s it’s difficult to really pinpoint and say one particular thing because there were just so many good things about earning a living, doing something that you’ve got love.

00:20:34 Franny

And a passion for.

00:20:35 Tim

Well, what about on? On the flip side, is there anything that you?

00:20:38 Tim

Look back on.

00:20:39 Tim

A a particular injury or a time where you were maybe out of the team that that you you you struggled with that was was a challenge either physically or mentally is there is there is there a?

00:20:50 Franny

Again, you could maybe similar to asking the question on you know the the, the highlight their countless moments where you’re you’re tested, you’re challenge, you’re you know you’re down about something, there’s uncertainty.

00:21:08 Franny

You know it.

00:21:09 Franny

Being in professional sport and football like I was, you know there.

00:21:13 Franny

In my mind, and maybe I created this a little bit myself.

00:21:16 Franny

I always felt I had to prove myself, you know, and and and that was almost, like literally week to week. And quite often day-to-day. You know, whenever I went into training, I felt I’ve gotta be on it 100% to get into the manager’s mind for picking the team on Saturday. And then when you’re in the team, you know, I always felt I had to perform in.

00:21:34 Franny

In the game itself.

00:21:36 Franny

So you know, if there’s one thing I.

00:21:39 Franny

Just if they’re, I could look back and.

00:21:41 Franny

Give myself.

00:21:42 Franny

Some advice as a younger man sat here now, it would be maybe not being so rough on myself and and and hired on myself, you know, cause I’d I’d be the first to be beaten myself up after a game if I hadn’t played well or hadn’t done something right and and and maybe that’s.

00:21:59 Franny

Was saying to the to this day even maybe that’s just part of my make up a little bit, but I think I would. I would probably tell myself to be a little bit kind of myself and not not too hard on myself on the casions. But yeah, you know, uncertainty over contracts and maybe leaving the club.

00:22:14 Franny

And not being picked in the team and injuries.

00:22:17 Franny

As you say.

00:22:18 Franny

That they can be real down and low points through a through a sportsman or sportsperson’s career. And I I I had many of those and it’s just trying to like we all do every challenge that anyone of any one of us really faces whatever it may be personally professionally it’s.

00:22:34 Franny

It’s it’s somehow finding a way to navigate your way through that, whether that’s by talking to somebody or sometimes just, you know, getting your own mind together and and and and battling through it. And I I guess my playing career and the challenges that I did in recent years can can sort of go to show.

00:22:52 Franny

And what what is capable when you know what all of us are capable of when you know things aren’t going well and aren’t going going as we.

00:22:59 Franny

Like what are what?

00:23:01 Tim

Are your sort of go to coping mechanisms when things don’t go right through your playing career or through the challenges when things aren’t going your way? Where do you take yourself?

00:23:10 Franny

I’ve I’ve I’ve learned. I think at one point of my life, Tim, it was work harder. You know, it’s like quite often, you know, I was there’d be players signed to replace me in the squad and and the team at Southampton and my default would have been right. OK. I’m not gonna, you know, mope around.

00:23:28 Franny

Door don’t kick up at first. I’ll. I’ll just work harder. I’ll show my work to the manager and the coaching team and I think that works in that environment and that profession largely just looking back and seeing how things worked out. But I think now sat here as a maybe sort of a.

00:23:48 Franny

An older and wiser person, in some ways that I I think clearly, that’s not always the best method. Clearly we’re living in an age now where we realise, especially men, you know, are not great at, you know, opening.

00:24:03 Franny

But even to their nearest and nearest or colleagues or friends or workmates, it’s, you know, it’s talking about things. Is is a big thing now, and I think sharing a problem can be a huge thing and or seeking professional advice even, you know, taking it a bit further, but.

00:24:23 Franny

Yeah, not certainly not bottling it up and I’ve, I’ve, I’ve certainly done that in the past myself, and I’ve found ways of coping with that, you know, just like battling on and getting through.

00:24:33 Franny

Things when maybe in the past it would have.

00:24:37 Franny

Been better to have sort of.

00:24:38 Franny

A little bit of advice and help and and shared the problem. You know I I’m not. I don’t have an ego or a problem, you know, sort of opening up to to say now that if there was a problem, I think I.

00:24:50 Franny

I I would.

00:24:51 Franny

Share that to a degree, but there’s there’s I.

00:24:53 Franny

Think there’s still that old?

00:24:55 Franny

You know.

00:24:56 Franny

That keep fighting. Keep working, keep pushing through it. Franny, part of me, which which will always be there, I think. And and. And I think at times maybe my mind and body certainly sort of wrestle with the two at.

00:25:09 Franny

Times. Yeah. Did you? Do you find that?

00:25:12 Tim

Today, when when things aren’t going away or things aren’t, aren’t, you know, going?

00:25:16 Tim

How you anticipated the way you’ve planned that that do you still find a chance to talk about those things if they’re not going to plan or?

00:25:21 Tim

Do you find?

00:25:21 Tim

Actually that talking is it, you know helps.

00:25:25 Franny

I, yeah. Good question, Tim. I I, I still find it a bit of a struggle. I think you know, you know I’m better, I would say and I I guess it’s it’s having the people around you, you know in my mind I think well I’d rather burden the problem personally rather than offload it and you know, give somebody else something to worry about.

00:25:47 Franny

Maybe, yeah. But you know, if there’s something again that I’ve learned, maybe you know, because I’ve quite often, maybe probably like all of us, we all have our own ways of dealing with things and how we think about things, but.

00:26:00 Franny

If let’s say for example there’s there’s a problem, you know with, with me and my playing days, I I I know I would almost like right think well, OK. I’m gonna get on and deal with this and.

00:26:13 Franny

Often when I look back, you know, whatever that worry might have been at the time. Once you’re sort of like a little bit further down the the the line, the next day, the next hour, the next week, next month, next year, whatever you look back on.

00:26:26 Franny

It you think what was?

00:26:27 Franny

I worrying about, yeah, yeah.

00:26:29 Franny

Wasn’t quite a.

00:26:30 Franny

Big deal. Anyway, whatever that whatever the.

00:26:32 Franny

Issue or the problem was at the time and.

00:26:33 Franny

It and it could have seemed.

00:26:35 Franny

Really, really bad.

00:26:37 Franny

And yeah, I I I think I I take comfort from that now and and then I did it with my challenges. You know I I guess that I say to myself is OK if even if I’m struggling one way or another at this moment and I’ve had some problems sort of with the back injury in recent years which you know has affected what I could do physically and I’ve realised how much.

00:26:57 Franny

You know, being active and physical is a big part of how I can sort of be happy from day-to-day that.

00:27:05 Franny

Yeah, well, I’m just trying to think where.

00:27:07 Franny

I was leading with that, but yeah, how how sort of.

00:27:10 Franny

Really sort of not getting too wrapped up in that low moment or that moment of, you know, I’m I’m struggling at this point because things will you will get through it somehow even if you share the problem or not. But we’re tougher than we realise I think quite often and we’re we’re capable of coming through difficult times and and there will be better times and better days.

00:27:31 Franny

Ahead for sure.

00:27:32 Tim

I wanted to talk to talk to you about some of the challenges that that’s that’s certainly a case in point. I think when you talk about some of the challenges that that you’ve taken on, but.

00:27:40 Tim

Just want to go back to to sort of the tail end of.

00:27:43 Tim

Your career the twilight of.

00:27:44 Tim

Your, your, your career. How? How old were you when you retired?

00:27:47 Franny

I was 30.

00:27:48 Franny

Four, when I retired from playing, yeah.

00:27:50 Tim

OK, how so for those of us who who, you know, aren’t professional footballers and that’s probably 99.9% of the people listening to listen to this. What’s it like coming towards the end of your career as?

00:28:03 Tim

A professional footballer?

00:28:04 Tim

Knowing that you’re playing days and the and the thing that you’ve worked so hard towards is coming to.

00:28:08 Tim

An end that.

00:28:10 Tim

That they are fitter younger players coming through the ranks that that are, you know, vying for your place in the team, that your your time your time is is limited.

00:28:20 Tim

But you’ve got the rest of the life your life ahead of you. What? What does? What does that look? How how is that? I I I don’t. I can’t imagine what that’s like. Cause for most of us are 34. We’re only halfway through our or, you know, a third of the way through our career. We still got 30 years of work ahead.

00:28:34 Tim

Of us. How does that what’s that like? Tell us about it.

00:28:37 Franny

Yeah, it’s, it’s it’s. Well, you certainly realise that you’re a long time retired from actually playing the the sport that it is you do and and and I I think as a player.

00:28:46 Franny

You know you.

00:28:47 Franny

You you always. I mean, I was fortunate, you know, certainly, Tim, that I I was able to to to play for that long you know lots of players that I played with either had.

00:28:55 Franny

Injury ending careers and you know the end of their career and you know, weren’t that fortunate to to to play into their 30s. So you know, I count myself very fortunate. I was able to even go to that. I I probably realistically could have played for longer, you know, fitness wise if I’d maybe dropped down a level and moved to another club for example, that was a decision at the time.

00:29:16 Franny

Retired but decided not to do that to either uproot my family. As I mentioned earlier or, you know, commute.

00:29:23 Franny

Myself personally, for a period of time, you know, made the decision to to take a coaching role at Southampton Football Club that they’d offer. But yeah, it, you know it, it was a little bit of a novelty at the time that, you know, I I didn’t then have to, you know, go into, you know, during up with the team and train on Christmas Day and go into a hotel on Christmas night.

00:29:44 Franny

Or New Year’s Eve to to be ready for the game on a Boxing Day or New Year’s Day. They’re, you know, those are the little downsides when families are involved as well around those sort of celebration.

00:29:53 Franny

It’s, but yeah, that that novelty sort of quickly wore off and you, you realised that. Wow, you know, what do I do next? It’s it’s that huge dilemma for anyone that’s in that kind of position. What? What? What are my skill sets and what can I do moving forward to to ultimately, you know, still earn a living and provide for the family.

00:30:12 Tim

So for you.

00:30:14 Tim

What what did come next? How did you replace the buzz of football in your life? What? You know what? What took its?

00:30:21 Franny

I I don’t think you you actually can Tim, to be honest, it’s it’s very difficult and I think you know.

00:30:26 Franny

The the the the fitness in playing side of it, playing in front of you know, crowds and competing at that level and the the camaraderie of the dressing room and and you know and sort of training with your your your colleagues is is what.

00:30:40 Franny

So many players miss, I think and and and that it’s difficult to replace. You know I I was fortunate again that you know my my father-in-law.

00:30:49 Franny

I had a a construction business and you know I I sort of joined forces with him for a period of time and, you know, unfortunately sort of like we we we hit some difficult times and that was that was a hard time again, you know, from a personal perspective to try and come through and you know and how it affects people as well. So especially when it’s family.

00:31:10 Franny

Yeah. So yeah, that that was a difficult time, but yeah, it it was, I think I’ve.

00:31:16 Franny

At the age I now on on more recent years, I think I’ve I’ve found my calling. If you like I I I work as a speaker. As you know, I also work as a pundit, a football pundit. So I’ve still got a connection and work within the sport that I’ve always loved, albeit very different to playing. But between those two things.

00:31:36 Franny

You know, I I absolutely love having that connection with the sports still and and speaking to various audiences to to, to share my story and hopefully, you know, relate to them and and give you know sort of take aways that they can, you know.

00:31:51 Franny

Put into their own lives to to to help them.

00:31:53 Franny

As well so.

00:31:54 Franny

That, that, that that’s a big driving factor for me now you know trying to.

00:31:59 Tim

And I think.

00:31:59 Tim

I think you’re you’re forgetting a small factor that you.

00:32:01 Tim

Raised over £1,000,000 for.

00:32:02 Tim

Charity. That’s just a A.

00:32:04 Tim

Small a small.

00:32:05 Franny

Aside, but was a big reason for wanting to do the challenges as well. You know, not not the. The one sole reason.

00:32:12 Franny

But yeah, a a huge factor.

00:32:14 Franny

Of you know, if we’re gonna do these challenges, let’s let’s do it for a great cause, and let’s let’s hopefully make it a significant sum of money. That will will make a difference. And yeah, that was always the goal.

00:32:25 Tim

Let’s let let’s let’s talk about those.

00:32:26 Tim

Challenges because there aren’t. They are incredible.

00:32:29 Tim

Talk As for those?

00:32:30 Tim

Who, who, who might not be aware of what you’ve done in, in, in on that side of things.

00:32:34 Tim

How did you get into?

00:32:35 Tim

Into them and and and and. Why?

00:32:38 Franny

Yeah. Well, you.

00:32:39 Franny

Know I guess linking what you’ve just we’ve just been talking about to him in 2006, I ran the London Marathon and that’s the first kind of event of that distance really. And and that size of event that you know, I’ve really signed up to and took part in and I ran that for a local cancer charity that I was a patron of and got a real buzz, you know, like the London Marathon is just incredible.

00:33:00 Franny

Isn’t it? You know, it’s.

00:33:01 Franny

A wonderful move.

00:33:01 Tim

I I did it in 2019, I can totally.

00:33:03 Tim

I totally get it, yeah.

00:33:04 Tim

It is, yeah, it’s it gives you a.

00:33:06 Franny

Real buzz, doesn’t it? And and I.

00:33:07 Franny

Think that plants a little seed because.

00:33:09 Franny

You know, getting me something to work towards, and I’ve been very sort of like focused, driven on, you know, my playing days, it was like, OK gearing up for the next match next weekend, whenever that’s gonna be so having a training programme to work towards the the the London Marathon back then was was brilliant and it gave me that focus a little bit more. So in later years I started to become intrigued.

00:33:29 Franny

A little bit by.

00:33:30 Franny

They, you know, ultra endurance events that people were taking on and.

00:33:35 Franny

And you know, once to test myself in something completely different to what I’d ever experienced in football and you know, both physically and mentally and, you know, the challenges that I took on, which were were three ultimately over a period of years to to to raise.

00:33:51 Franny

What was a £1 million target? I didn’t realise it would be quite so difficult to to get to that sum of money. I I was hoping it was gonna be done after one challenge, but had to do another two to get there. And you know very, very proud and pleased to say that we, you know, we’re standing at around about £1.4 million that we’ve managed to raise.

00:34:09 Franny

As a family and as a team for.

00:34:11 Franny

Cancer Research UK.

00:34:12 Tim

So take us, take us to the first to the first challenge, then what was it and and how did he?

00:34:16 Tim

Come up with it. And how did it go?

00:34:18 Franny

Yeah, well, it was.

00:34:19 Franny

Sort of. Almost years in the making, thinking, well, what can I do? What am I gonna do? When am I gonna do it? And there’s a big part of that. Maybe, you know, just committing to it. And but.

00:34:29 Franny

When I did.

00:34:29 Franny

It we came up with the concept and it was having that link and connection with my playing career in football.

00:34:35 Franny

I decided to run to every Premier League football stadium without knowing how far it would be or what the exact mileage would be and and how exactly we were gonna do it at the time. But that was the the rawest concept. Just run to every stadium and we started at Newcastle, which was the most northerly stadium the particular year we started and finished.

00:34:55 Franny

Back in Southampton on a match day where the plan was to do a a lap of the pitch at half time with all the the crowd in the stadium.

00:35:01 Franny

So yeah, you know, to make it a challenge for me, I was running anything between 40 and 50 miles a day, every single day for 21 days.

00:35:10 Franny

I mean, that’s.

00:35:10 Tim

That’s incredible. I mean, I I can’t imagine what that’s like and what that.

00:35:13 Tim

Does to your.

00:35:14 Tim

Body but I.

00:35:14 Tim

Mean mentally, how do you get to that point? It’s a bit like, you know, you hear these people.

00:35:19 Tim

‘S Mountaineers saying they climb over this cause.

00:35:21 Tim

Because it’s cause.

00:35:22 Tim

It’s there and they gotta do it and they put their body through.

00:35:24 Tim

Whatever it needs.

00:35:25 Tim

To do to get there.

00:35:27 Tim

How do you approach that, that challenge physically and mentally to sort of prepare yourself and to keep going when you’re running that distance every day consecutively?

00:35:36 Franny

It’s clearly very difficult.

00:35:39 Franny

But I think.

00:35:40 Franny

That, you know, like anything, it it, you know, it’s almost just scaling up in a way, a marathon, for example. You know, there and and this is not in a boastful or bragging sense or whatever. But when when my mindset shifted, hmm. That was one part of it. It was the mindset.

00:35:56 Franny

And then the next is is the physical side of it. So you know my my mind had to get around the fact that I was going to be running that kind of distance every single day, day in, day out for three weeks. So that’s one side of it. I had to sort of comprehend that in my my.

00:36:10 Franny

In mind and work towards and believe that I was going to do that. Then it was training the body up to get it used to that kind of workload. And I’ll be honest, you know it. It’s hard to to prepare for that kind of strain and pressure because you just don’t know even with the best training programme, how you’re going to react when you’re doing that kind of distance.

00:36:31 Franny

Day in, day out, and clearly, you know, there were some big challenges with injuries with.

00:36:38 Franny

Is the best way to describe it. Mental trauma and physical trauma throughout the three weeks that I had to overcome, but managed to do that, you know whether it was personally on myself or with the help of my family and the support team that I had with me.

00:36:53 Tim

Was it a case of the crowd pulling you along as well? Did you get good support along the way? People joining you did?

00:36:57 Franny

People come with you on on parts of the run. Yeah. You know, sort of former teammates. Just people from the charity, complete strangers that I’ve never met before. Well wishers, people from the charity. Yeah, it was brilliant. You know, we had a huge amount of support people coming along.

00:37:15 Franny

But then, having said that, you know, if you as a runner, Tim, I don’t know, you know what you prefer there. There were times when I I really welcomed, you know, some company and someone to chat to. And there are other times where you know I I didn’t want to appear rude and hopefully it wasn’t with someone I I hadn’t met before. But there were times I just wanted to be in silence and.

00:37:34 Franny

And with my own thoughts and just try and tick through the Mars and.

00:37:38 Franny

Clock through the.

00:37:39 Franny

Hours to to to get to the end of the day. So yeah, there’s there’s lots of different ways that I found.

00:37:44 Franny

Is of of trying to cope with, you know, being immersed in a in a challenge like that at the time.

00:37:50 Tim

Yeah, fantastic. I’ve always found that running is an incredible, you know, mentally, mentally, you know, really does. It does different things to.

00:37:57 Tim

You and I, I I.

00:37:59 Tim

I was diagnosed with cancer a few years back and and I ran throughout that time and during my recovery afterwards and.

00:38:06 Tim

It gave me.

00:38:06 Tim

That kind of.

00:38:07 Tim

Headspace that nothing else, nothing else.

00:38:10 Tim

Could do and so I always found it. That kind of escape for me and I totally get what you say in terms of sometimes you just wanna be completely by.

00:38:16 Tim

Yourself and just.

00:38:17 Tim

Running with your own thoughts, going through your head and something like running does that. That just sort of is the best medicine in a way that.

00:38:24 Tim

You could get in that kind of that kind of situation.

00:38:25 Franny

Yeah, no, for sure. And as as you say, you know, it’s it’s one of those things that I think it’s, it’s great in the.

00:38:32 Franny

Just that.

00:38:33 Franny

Other than the.

00:38:33 Franny

Kit and a pair of trainers. You know it’s it’s not something that you necessarily need equipment for. You know, you don’t even need one of these smart devices that we all wear now and certainly not music at times. I know a lot of people like running with music. I’m I’m not that bothered to be honest there’s occasions when I do run with a bit of music but predominantly I don’t.

00:38:52 Franny

And and and that was part of the training for me as well. You know, just sort of touching on the music side of things, Tim.

00:38:57 Franny

Was, you know, I I didn’t want to have to rely on sticking some ear plugs in and listening to music to get me through the miles and get through the day. You know, I, I I ran without music largely because I saw that as a train in the mind and my resilience to to build up for what was to come in the challenge.

00:39:18 Franny

So yeah, you know, I almost wanted to experience that pain and suffering knowing that it was definitely going to come at some point when we were doing the challenge itself.

00:39:28 Tim

Once that was done and you, you’d you. You know, you’d kick that off. And and I don’t know how much you’d raised at that point, but at what point did you then think that’s not enough for me? I wanna do something else. And did you? When did you start thinking about the next one?

00:39:42 Franny

Uh, the very first morning after the challenge finished. I you right away? Yeah, I we we’d raised at that point about £265,000 and I and and yeah. And it’s a huge sum of money and we were so grateful for all the donations we’ve had to that point.

00:40:00 Franny

But it wasn’t the £1,000,000, and as much as I was relieved on that morning not to get up and have to run that day because we completed the challenge, I I knew I was going to take another challenge on in the hope of getting to that million pound mark and yeah, that that sort of took effectively 2 years or two or three years to to come to fruition.

00:40:20 Franny

You know, to give myself my body time to heal and recover.

00:40:24 Franny

You know, come up with another another challenge, you know, because we we set the bar pretty high. That was that was a dilemma for for me and my family and team to to come up with something that would capture people’s imagination again and hope that they would continue to donate and support, you know what we were doing. And yeah, that that sort of took a bit of time. So yeah, with the training and planning again.

00:40:46 Franny

For the next challenge, it was a few years before we got to that.

00:40:48 Tim

Point and the next one was every Premier League club and every championship.

00:40:52 Tim

Club. Is that right?

00:40:54 Franny

That’s right. Yeah. So we added the championship clubs to the Premier League clubs like we’ve done before. We added a second discipline as well, Tim. So you know the challenge this time was 44 clubs, but in a shorter space of time. So it was over 2 weeks and I ran a marathon every single morning. And then when I’d finished the marathon, I get.

00:41:13 Franny

Changed into a cycling kit and get on my bike and cycle for a minimum of 75 miles every single day as well. So I was I was covering at least 100 miles a day running and cycling 14 days on that.

00:41:27 Tim

Well, and how did?

00:41:27 Tim

How did it go?

00:41:29 Franny

It it roughed me up good and like everyone did, to be honest, but yeah, it it it was great. I mean, you know, they’re like every challenge.

00:41:40 Franny

That I guess any any.

00:41:41 Franny

Of us take on regardless of what it is. You know there’s yeah. There’s moments where where the the going gets really, really tough and there’s there’s moments where you’re.

00:41:50 Franny

You’re you’re in a nice rhythm and a nice flow and you’re feeling confident and strong and positive.

00:41:56 Franny

But that can change in a second car that you know with an injury or something. So yeah. Yeah. And one thing I think I’ve I’ve learned as well as like, I never took the good moments for granted, you know. And I was like that a little bit playing career. You know, I always knew I was fortunate doing what I was doing. I was very grateful as well. And on the challenges when when I felt good.

00:42:16 Franny

You felt strong. You know, I I I tried to embrace that and enjoy it because I knew there were going to be those moments where I don’t feel this good and and that clearly was was.

00:42:28 Tim

Every, every you know, uphill as a downhill, isn’t it? I suppose it’s always, always the well, every downhill.

00:42:33 Tim

There’s not. Whatever.

00:42:35 Tim

So. So what? What came next after that?

00:42:37 Tim

Talk us, talk us through sort.

00:42:39 Tim

Of your the the, the the well how that one went and then how that segued into your next challenge?

00:42:45 Franny

Yeah, it. Well again, we managed to complete that again and it was very much similar finished to the last one on the match day at Saint Mary’s. Again the the football club were brilliant and allowing me to finish on a match day. And I think I’d heard after that I didn’t realise that the the club had lost out, you know, thousands of pounds of revenue.

00:43:03 Franny

Because most of the supporters stayed in their seat to to see the lap and finishing and you know to viewing things and yeah, won’t going down to spend the money in the the concourse in.

00:43:08 Tim

Ohh wow.

00:43:13 Franny

The you know.


There are a.

00:43:13 Franny

Super strength.

00:43:14 Tim

Lot of unsold pies down there at half time.

00:43:18 Franny

But again, after that very much like the first one it you know, we still haven’t reached that million pound target that I promised from day one. So you know.

00:43:25 Franny

I I was really thinking ohh. I can’t believe you. I’m gonna have to do a third one to to get there. Hopefully. And and again that took a period of time to to come round and by this stage there were members of the team, the support team that were stopping weren’t too keen answering my phone calls and messages at this point because I think they knew what.

00:43:43 Franny

Was coming, you know.

00:43:45 Tim

You you bought.

00:43:46 Franny

A bit of a dream team and and of course I was going back to the same people again.

00:43:50 Franny

You know, you feel a little bit bad, don’t you? Sometimes, Tim, when you you’re raising money for charity at times, you know. You know, it’s a great cause and you know, it’s something that’s gonna be done. But you feel a little bit guilty going back to the same people quite often and you know, but the support is incredible. It just went from strength to strength. More people came on board for the last challenge and.

00:44:10 Franny

And and there was always up to that point still, you know, as much as I’ve been broken.

00:44:13 Franny

And then and challenged on those two challenges.

00:44:18 Franny

There was still a part of me. It was like, what is that breaking point for me? You know, it’s I still want to push myself and I guess, you know, everything came to a head on that last challenge.

00:44:29 Tim

Yeah. Now I I know because I.

00:44:31 Tim

I was at that that talk.

00:44:32 Tim

Obviously that, that, that did come.

00:44:33 Tim

To a head in that last challenge, tell us a little bit about it. It was.

00:44:36 Tim

77 ironmans in seven.

00:44:37 Tim

Days. But they came to a point in there along that journey where things didn’t quite go to.

00:44:44 Franny

No, that’s right. Yeah. And and you know, there was a bit of a a flow and I thought this worked nicely. You know, I came up the, the the idea we’ve done a running only challenge over three weeks running and cycling challenge over.

00:44:55 Franny

Two weeks.

00:44:56 Franny

So the last concept we came up with my wife was always saying, you know, like these three-week and two week challenges are too long on everyone. It’s tough on you. It’s hard on the family and the support.

00:45:05 Franny

Saying there’s people giving up annual holiday to come and support the challenges you.

00:45:09 Franny

Know it’s it’s not.

00:45:10 Franny

Fair being so long, she said. Try and do something shorter.

00:45:14 Franny

So I thought.

00:45:15 Franny

Well, we’ve done 3 weeks, 2 weeks.

00:45:17 Franny

One challenge, two challenge. Let’s do three challenge discipline over one week and came up with the the Iron Man distance triathlon on every day for a week. And yeah, started that, you know, had to get months and months of preparation in swimming was not my my activity or sport and.

00:45:37 Franny

Yeah, I was really struggling for a long time, but.

00:45:40 Franny

This this was the challenge as you touched on, Tim, that you know was was not my decision and it was the the the lady who was looking after me, my physio, who along with my family made the decision to withdraw me on medical reasons to to go to hospital and get checked out by the doctors on the morning of Day 5.

00:46:00 Franny

After I’d done 4/4 of the the iron man’s, but I was I was in a pretty bad way at that point, so they wanted to withdraw me and get me checked out and I was devastated at the time, you know, I was broken. I thought the challenge is over.

00:46:16 Franny

Money’s not going to come in now and you know, haven’t completed the challenge personally that I’ve set out to achieve, but this is the magical part about it to.

00:46:26 Franny

Him what happened?

00:46:27 Franny

At that point was my family and the support team picked up the baton and they continued to swim, bike and run.

00:46:35 Franny

Every single mile of that Iron Man distance triathlon for the next two days.

00:46:41 Franny

So that I could get rest get checked out of the doctor’s and and enable me to come back and finish day seven. So as a individually I completed 5:00 and 7:00 but as a team we completed the seven in seven and uh and broke through that million pound target. So it was a, it was really rewarding and I’d I’d.

00:47:00 Franny

Down the boundaries. At this point I’ve found those limits, so I.


I I know what?

00:47:05 Franny

I’m capable of now, but I I mean, no, no.

00:47:09 Tim

Tell me what that’s like there, because for someone who obviously is as focused as you are as as you know as.

00:47:16 Tim

You have that winning mentality drilled into you, you know and and obviously that that run throughout your playing career throughout the previous challenges as well. What was it like to actually get to that point where you know I’m broken? I’m I’m I’m you know I’m. I’m done now I you know this this is it I I know how far I can go this is it what’s what’s that like at that point.

00:47:35 Tim

So how and how do you?

00:47:36 Tim

Cope with that well.

00:47:38 Franny

I yeah, I was devastated. As I say, you know, like that there’s a bit of footage that I’ve got that my wife Karen is is recording and it and it was about 5:00 in the morning when my wife or just before five, I think it was 430 that Karen called Kelly, the lady. I was saying, you know, my, my, my, my.

00:47:58 Franny

Medic if you like and physio.

00:48:00 Franny

To come into our room, to to, to discuss the problems that I’d shared with Karen, you know, like I had a racing heartbeat and the night before my vision was going blurred and things like that. And there were things happening to my body that I thought, you know, this clearly isn’t right and normal. And and I wasn’t eating as well. That was a big thing for me through all the challenges I struggled to put the calories in to.

00:48:21 Franny

To feel my body. So you know, there was some concerns sort of day three, day four that I’d had personally but didn’t really share them.

00:48:29 Franny

And then when I eventually shared it with Karen, you know, she brought Kelly into the conversation and she gave me about a 5 or 10 minute chat about why she was going to make the decision to get me checked out at hospital, along with my family and straight after she said, you know, this, this emotional speech about why she’s withdrawing me.

00:48:49 Franny

I turned around and said so shall I get in the pool then?

00:48:52 Franny

And I just was not thinking straight. I wasn’t looking through it with.

00:48:56 Franny

A clear set.

00:48:57 Franny

Of eyes on my mind and I guess.

00:48:59 Tim

So if they.

00:49:00 Tim

If they hadn’t done that, if they hadn’t made that decision, do you think you would have?

00:49:04 Tim

Got up and tried to have done the next lecture.

00:49:05 Franny

I I I think I certainly would have tried. Yeah. Even if I, you know, I wasn’t able to complete it. I I would have. Yeah, that, that that I was programmed I think Tim to to just keep going and then I remember my son Luke coming in and you know when when this decision was made and I was feeling you know just crushed by it because I thought that you know it’s over and I.

00:49:24 Franny

I I haven’t completed it.

00:49:27 Franny

Luke said that only you. You’ll know, dad, he said. If if this is the right decision and if it’s it’s comfortable for you and and and when he said that it it just shifted my thinking a little bit because I almost looked deep down inside myself at that point and I thought.

00:49:43 Franny

I haven’t got anything else to give and and I know it’s the right decision.

00:49:48 Franny

And and and because of that.

00:49:51 Franny

It’s always sat comfortably with me. I’ve got no regrets about that. Sure, I would have liked to have done all seven, but I know that.

00:50:00 Franny

I was getting dangerously at point where I could have done some long lasting damage and the decisions with me was right sure.


It it must.

00:50:10 Tim

Be hard though, because that’s your the the logical side of your brain.

00:50:13 Tim

Been taking control over the emotional side of your brain, isn’t it? The emotional side of your brain saying keep going. Keep going, keep going. But deep, very deep down it’s that logical side saying this isn’t this isn’t good. This isn’t right. So it’s. That must have been. Yeah. It must have been hard.

00:50:25 Franny

No, exactly.

00:50:28 Franny

Yeah, it was.

00:50:29 Franny

It was a torment, you know, at.

00:50:30 Franny

The time and but.

00:50:31 Franny

But in as much as it was a torment for a short period of time, as I say, you know that that part of my my brain thought and and and and even that feeling I had as well was.

00:50:43 Franny

This is the right call. You know I’ve I’ve I’ve got nothing else. But you know, resting for a couple of days and getting checked over to make sure there’s nothing long lasting that was gonna happen by continuing it enabled me to come back and finish day seven, which was was brilliant.

00:50:58 Tim

And and I imagine great pride in those people who who ran in your place and swam and and biked in your place as well.

00:51:05 Franny

Or do you know what, Tim, I think you.

00:51:07 Franny

Know when? Whenever.

00:51:08 Franny

Any of us go through, you know, whether it’s with our family, friends, work colleagues, a, A, A team of what? Whatever that a team might look like, and I often refer to a team, the football team I’ve played in over the years.

00:51:22 Franny

Tim Benali, we call it, you know the the, the family, my, my support team. I I know for a fact I could not have done any of these challenges without them 100%. So they’re a massive part of of it and you know the the, the experiences we’ve been through, I think unless.

00:51:41 Franny

And and when I say this, I mean like the on road team especially you know the the ones that are getting less sleep. And I was I was getting four to five hours sleep a night on these.

00:51:49 Franny

Branches. They were often getting less than that because they were doing other jobs. You know, I was. I was the priority to get get treated, get fed, get into bed. That was it, you know? Yeah. Start the recovery process for the next.

00:52:01 Franny

Day they were doing all the other jobs all around that, so they were working harder in some ways and I was on sleep deprivation and things, so you know.

00:52:09 Franny

The the bond that we’ve we’ve built, you know, not just with my family but the the individuals and the companies that come on board. You know, there’s there’s a real experience we’ve shared and the pleasure in knowing that we’ve we’ve managed to raise a a a huge sum of money as well which is is is very pleasing so yeah it’s a really unique bond and.

00:52:29 Franny

Although I haven’t said that, people often ask what’s next and the at.

00:52:34 Franny

At the moment, given that I touched on a little bit earlier, you know, some personal injuries that I’ve had in recent years.

00:52:39 Franny

Is really frustrating cause it’s set me back, you know from where I would like to be doing, you know, more active things at this moment in.

00:52:46 Tim

Time. Yeah. I’ll take getting some practise in on changing nappies again. That’s gonna be the next challenge, isn’t it?

00:52:51 Franny

Yeah, yeah, that can be a real challenge, can’t it? So, yeah, but I’m. I’m.

00:52:55 Franny

Looking forward to that one.

00:52:57 Tim

So just just just tell me just.

00:52:59 Tim

Just, I mean obviously that was a big knock for you in you know, in terms in terms.

00:53:04 Tim

Of that challenge, what?

00:53:04 Tim

What advice would you give to people?

00:53:06 Tim

We all face knocks in life. We all get. Maybe not in such extreme circumstances in terms of realising where our breaking points are, but what would your advice be to anybody in terms of?

00:53:16 Tim

How do you pick yourself up again once?

00:53:17 Tim

You get knocked down.

00:53:19 Franny

So I think there’s a number of ways, Tim and and I guess ultimately it’s it’s a case of each one of us finding the right way that works and you know how that can help us. If there’s one thing I’ve definitely learned from doing these ultra endurance challenges in recent years and my playing career is that you know, when we think we’ve.

00:53:39 Franny

We can’t go any further or.

00:53:41 Franny

We’ve given everything that we’ve got.

00:53:44 Franny

You know, there’s there’s something inside of us that that can keep us going. We’ve always got that little our boundaries are further than what we we we really understand. And you know I’ve, I’ve I’ve pushed those and I’ve sort of like stretched them beyond anything I’d ever thought was possible personally. So I I truly believe that every single one of us are capable of doing that.

00:54:05 Franny

Like I say, it doesn’t have to be extreme and joint challenges as I’ve taken on it it it could be anything in any of our lives that that could be an issue or a problem or.

00:54:14 Franny

Something that’s a.

00:54:15 Franny

Challenge for us, but we can get through it and quite often as I’ve just touched on.

00:54:22 Franny

It’s not just, you know, on your own, it’s it’s with a network of people around you, a team of people or one person even. And it’s it’s it’s taking help when you need it.

00:54:33 Franny

And and and and from the the challenge perspective, it was bringing people in with skill sets, not just the skills, but more importantly, what was crucial for me. And and this is key in anything I do going for.

00:54:47 Franny

It’s the personality and character of the person that was more important than anything.

00:54:50 Franny

Else, because when those tough times do come along, you know we’re stripped back and we, you know we’ve we’ve got to react in a certain way under those kind of pressures. But yeah I I think.

00:55:03 Franny

Any one of us is capable of doing incredible things. Clearly we find those challenges and difficulties through our lives at some stage or another, whether it’s big or small. But you know there there there’s always better days ahead and and and things that we can overcome and you don’t have to be.

00:55:21 Franny

Brilliantly fit or clever, or the the strongest. Whether it’s mentally or physically, but we’ve still got ways of overcoming adversity in our lives, and I think that’s that’s what’s brilliant about the the the human makeup and the spirit and the and the power of the mind. I think you know, that’s, that’s the other thing is, you know, I’ve I’ve been.

00:55:42 Franny

Broken on many occasions on these challenges, but there’s something in your mind that you know I I had a purpose and a reason of doing what I was doing and and and that drove me on massively and and carried me way beyond the point of when I would have probably stopped and given up without that purpose. So I think having a purpose and a reason for what we’re doing.

00:56:04 Franny

Or why we want to do something or get over something is a big thing as well. One thing stuck in my mind stuck in my memory from.

00:56:12 Tim

You’re talking to school, you said. And I quote. Life begins at the end of your comfort.

00:56:17 Tim

Zone. And I thought that was a. That was a great, a great little nugget to leave the kids with. Is that something that you live your life by?

00:56:26 Franny

I I think you know, having done these experiences in recent years, Tim, that you know there was that intrigue about.

00:56:32 Franny

You know where? Where are those? You know, where is that comfort zone and how far?

00:56:36 Franny

Can I push it?

00:56:38 Franny

I’ve I’ve stepped into some realms that are, you know.

00:56:42 Tim

Quite out there.

00:56:43 Franny

In many aspects and and and I and I I know for a fact I’ve grown physically and mentally because of it and but yeah, it’s it’s something that I would sort of certainly encourage people to to, you know, do things that challenge you that scare us that.

00:57:02 Franny

Brightness that we don’t think we’re capable of doing and and but just break it down as well. You know I come touched on sort of being hard on myself as a, as a player back in.

00:57:12 Franny

My playing days you.

00:57:14 Franny

Know don’t, don’t beat yourself up about things, whether it’s you.

00:57:17 Franny

Could be, I don’t know, getting fit or losing weight or anything, you know, trying to, you know, progress your career, improve a relationship with someone. It could take many aspects, but just just take it 1 little step at a time. You know that that’s how mentally I broke down some of those challenges it.

00:57:34 Franny

You know if.

00:57:34 Franny

I looked at.

00:57:35 Franny

It as the big picture, it was overwhelming.

00:57:37 Franny

At times and you know and and it was a piece of advice. My wife gave me after the the first day on the first challenge. I I couldn’t sleep. I was physically sick. I was. And in my mind, I couldn’t fall asleep because I was tossing and turning the enormity of.

00:57:53 Franny

Getting up again in a few hours, running another 40 plus miles for another 20 days was too much in my mind and she said something to me then that I’d I’d take moving forward ever since that point, she said, you know, you can do it.

00:58:05 Franny

One day.

00:58:07 Franny

You’ve just done it today, so don’t look at it anymore than the one day challenge.

00:58:11 Franny

And that was how I dealt with it. That was the furthest I looked ahead at that point, and I broke that down into smaller bite sized chunks.

00:58:19 Franny

To get me through it. So it might then get through the next hour or get through the next 5 to 10 miles and depending how I was feeling, it was literally at times just put 1 foot in front of the.

00:58:29 Franny

Other and I guess that’s all any of us could do at times. It’s just put that next step forward, don’t look at the big picture, it’s not as.

00:58:38 Franny

Overwhelming as it can seeing looking at the big picture, but just take one step and one little bit at a time and you can get to the end point.

00:58:46 Tim

I think that’s a great, great way to live one one day, one step at a time. I couldn’t couldn’t agree more funny. Thank you very much. I really appreciate your time. I’ve got one.

00:58:53 Tim

Final question I.

00:58:53 Tim

Have to ask you what? What are your hopes for Southampton this?

00:58:56 Tim

Year. Are they gonna?

00:58:57 Franny

Bounce straight back up again. Well, I’m optimistic, Tim. I certainly hope.

00:59:01 Franny

So you know.

00:59:01 Franny

I’m gonna probably be working on a few games this season, so I wanna see, you know, started the season where I was working.

00:59:07 Franny

On Friday night, with Sky at at Sheffield Wednesday and we got a good start there. But the cup, the cup defeat the other day wasn’t so good so I’m hoping.

00:59:15 Franny

Can have a a positive campaign bounce straight back, but you know we we’ve got this moment, we’re doing the the recording it’s there’s a few speculations about transfers players leaving isn’t there. So yeah, let’s let’s. Yeah, exactly. I’m I’m waiting for that window transfer window to slam shut and then we’ll know what what’s going.

00:59:26 Tim

Always is this time of year, isn’t it? This is always a.

00:59:28 Tim

Nearly time of year on that front.

00:59:33 Franny

On, but yeah, I’m. I’m I’m optimistic.

00:59:35 Franny

I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

00:59:37 Tim

Excellent. Well, listen, thank you very much. Wish you the best of luck with them and the best of luck and let’s see how it goes. But thank you for.

00:59:42 Tim

Your time. I really appreciate it, Sunny and all the best. Take care.

00:59:45 Franny

You too. Cheers, Tim.

00:59:50 Tim

That’s it for this episode. A huge thank you to Franny Benali for giving us such a fantastic insight into the incredible mental resilience that’s needed to achieve your dream and to take on the seemingly impossible. Don’t forget you can keep the conversation going by answering our episode question, which this time around is simply what’s the biggest challenge.

01:00:08 Tim

You’ve ever had to overcome.

01:00:10 Tim

You can post.

01:00:10 Tim

Your answer using your mobile device on the Spotify episode page, the link to which can be found in the episode notes or via the Linked Tree site in.

01:00:18 Tim

The brave front show profile.

01:00:20 Tim

You can also leave us a voice message again through the link tree or the link in the episode notes. So why don’t you let us know what?

01:00:26 Tim

You thought of our.

01:00:27 Tim

Interview with Ronnie.

01:00:28 Tim

Who else you think we should talk to?

01:00:29 Tim

Or even what else you.

01:00:30 Tim

Think should come.

01:00:31 Tim

And if you’ve enjoyed the show, share it with a friend and please subscribe wherever you usually get your podcasts. In the meantime, though, take care and I’ll see you soon.

What do you think?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.