A former Notts County footballer is one of the newest Nottinghamshire Police officers after completing his training and passing out at a special ceremony at Headquarters on Friday 11 October 2019.
Former Magpies defender Julian Kelly retired from football in 2013 after spells with Reading, Wycombe and Lincoln and admitted it was difficult choice to give up the sport he’d been playing all his life.
The 30-year-old former Arsenal academy player spent three years at Meadow Lane after being signed by Manager Martin Allen in the summer of 2011 and made 54 appearances for the club.
He was also part of the squad that travelled to Turin to play in the first ever match in the Italian giants Juventus’ new stadium.
Kelly is now looking forward to a new career as a police officer patrolling the streets of West Bridgford.
He said: “I got released from Notts as I kept getting injured and I couldn’t get my body right. I was so desperate to keep playing, I went everywhere, literally all around the country on trial, from Mansfield, Grimsby and down to Torquay, but I kept getting injured, then having to wait six weeks to recover and not getting paid in the meantime. It was really difficult time for me.
“Mentally I wasn’t there, and I spent eight months on trial and getting injured and it got to a point I had to bite the bullet.
“I had to look after my family and say to myself my injuries aren’t recovering. It was the saddest moment of my life.
“After that I get a temporary job in factories, worked at Warburtons bread factory, I was a delivery driver, whatever I did to get money and to provide for my family. This led me to the prison service and then to where I am today.”
Kelly admitted that joining the force is something he has been looking to do since retiring and he’s proud to have made it to this stage after a challenging application process.
He said: “It’s been a hard journey I’m not going to lie. It’s taken a lot of hard work and support from colleagues.
“I’m very excited and proud to have got to this stage. It’s weird, after playing in front of thousands, I was nervous marching in the passing out parade!
“The application process isn’t easy and it took me three times before I got in. I finally did it and I’m really excited now to start my career.
“I was really struggling with the competency-based questions and putting down my past experiences and the right information on paper.
“I went to a force-ran seminar and spoke to people who guided me and showed me where I’d gone wrong. That support was crucial and really helped me get through.
“I’d urge anyone who is struggling, get that help and keep trying with your application.”
Kelly and the rest of his cohort spent 18-weeks training, learning all about the force’s ethics, values, as well as first aid, officer safety and investigative skills, fraud and powers of arrest.
He said: “It’s been a really good course, you learn a lot and I’ve still got a lot to learn of course. We’ve all been out on night shift, I went out in the city centre and it was really eye-opening. The first time as an officer, at the weekend, you see all sorts. It really challenges you and that was the highlight.”
So why did Kelly choose the police after hanging up his boots and not stay in the sport he loved?
He added: “When I was at school police always interested me, I was always watching the TV shows, the documentaries, but at that time football was my main kind of thing.
“When I was at Notts I did a lot of community work and visiting schools and the kids always asked me, ‘what would you be if you weren’t a footballer?’ and I always said a police officer.
“When I stopped playing, I wanted to get into the police, but they weren’t recruiting, so it’s been a long journey to get this point.
“I joined the prison service and that gave me a bit of a flavour of the job. Eventually after checking the force’s website I saw that recruitment opened and I applied.”
Kelly looked back on his career with Notts fondly, including playing in that friendly in Italy in 2011.
He said: “I had a great time at Meadow Lane, the game at Juventus was incredible. I still can’t quite believe it happened. It was unbelievable. Seeing all behind the scenes and playing against some of their greats was fantastic.
“Also the year where we just missed out on the playoffs on goal difference, we had a really good year. We played some great football under Keith Curle and got some big crowds against some big teams like Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday. Good memories.”
The force is set to open recruitment in November 2019 and he’s urging those who be thinking of a new career – including those footballers who may be looking for a future calling – to visit the force’s website.
“I’m an active person and I didn’t want a job where I was behind a desk in an office, I’m an active person and I love talking to people, so it’s the ideal job. I find it very interesting.
“Obviously going through training, you get to learn all about the different departments and different aspects to the role. It’s such a varied career. You can never get bored in this job.
“I think it’s a really good career. For all ages, not just the youngsters coming out of college or University, but those with more life experience. And the force needs all types of people from all sorts of backgrounds. That really helps when you are there at an incident and you can connect with the local community.
“It’s a really interesting job and lots of opportunities to progress. If you enjoy being active, it’s a good job.”
To follow in Julian’s footsteps and join the force, keep an eye on our website.Police officer recruitment is opening in November 2019.