Then and now: Comparing the lifestyles of two players from different eras

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The Independent Online
George Cohen

England 1966

England's World Cup-winning right-back, Cohen was 26 in the summer of 1966 and although the rewards for players of his era cannot compare with modern football incomes, he still considered himself well off. Thanks to Johnny Haynes, his team-mate at Fulham, who became the first player to break the pounds 100-per-week barrier, the 1960s was an era of new prosperity for footballers. Cohen's weekly pay packet often contained between pounds 80 and pounds 100, more than three times the national average.

It enabled him to buy a Ford Cortina 1600E for his wife and to drive a Brabham Vauxhall Viva himself, converted for him by Jack Brabham. It was common for players to rent their houses, often owned by the club, but Cohen chose to buy, paying pounds 12,000 for a substantial property in Worcester Park, near Kingston-upon-Thames, which would now fetch a minimum pounds 300,000.

But opportunities to top up salaries were limited. Players received no advice on investing their cash and there were no organised pension arrangements. Although a First Division player could expect to receive a free pair of boots, the idea of being paid to endorse a product was almost unheard of. Haynes succeeded Denis Compton as the "Brylcreem Boy" but few other players expected to cash in.

Cohen embraced the fashion for holidays abroad, travelling extensively in Italy, exploring Liguria, Tuscany and the Adriatic coast. A week in Rome with Laker Holidays cost pounds 50 per head. Fulham still travelled to most away matches by train, often making the outward journey on a Friday and returning on Sunday. Agents did exist, but mostly they were perceived as swarthy men with Italian accents to be found in West End clubs late at night.

Stuart Pearce

England 1996

Never mind the stockbroker belt, Premiership footballers rival captains of industry in the 1990s earnings league. As a full-back, Pearce does not command the level of income a leading goalscorer can enjoy but still boasts a mind-boggling salary.

Since his elevation to England captain, the Wealdstone-born former electrician has climbed to the top of the City Ground pay scale, with a deal said to be worth around pounds 8,000 each week, or pounds 416,000 a year, including a pension fund that will guarantee a comfortable standard of living long after he retires. All negotiated by his agent, of course, along with a hugely successful testimonial match against Newcastle, his boot contract with Mitre and occasional appearances on Sky TV.

It adds up to more money than Pearce, a man of modest tastes and quiet lifestyle, knows how to spend and even after investing in a substantial country property (estimated value pounds 300,000) in the Vale of Belvoir, where his wife, Liz, keeps horses, there is plenty left over. More than enough to run a sporty BMW (pounds 40,000) and a Range-Rover (pounds 25,000) and to finance adventurous holidays. A travel enthusiast with a passion for wildlife and different cultures, he spent part of last summer on safari in Africa and would tend to choose the Far East to Mediterranean beaches.

His income also enables him to indulge his taste in punk music. Although he tends to avoid nightclubs, he still scours the music press for punk revival concerts and has a substantial collection of records from his chosen era, all on vinyl, with favourites the Stranglers, Stiff Little Fingers and the Pogues. Now 34, he is determined to preserve his playing fitness as long as possible and reports for daily training at 9.30am, an hour ahead of the required start time.