Clarke Carlisle

Clarke Carlisle

Former Chair, PFA


Clarke made over 500 senior level appearances and led the football players’ union. He has also written a powerful memoir. Clarke is open about his struggles with alcohol, depression and gambling – the strains of a multi-billion pound industry in which both fans and club believe they own you. He’s similarly candid about racism and the Kick It Out campaign. Clarke talks about diversity and culture change in a game traditionally associated with macho behaviour.


Former footballer Clarke Carlisle is noted as one of the most eloquent, insightful voices in the modern game. He gained a great deal of acclaim and recognition in his time as chairman of the PFA (Professional Footballers’ Association) and his work speaking up against racism, homophobia and other excesses of the game on and off the pitch.

Starting his career at Blackpool FC Clarke proved himself a capable central defender and scored in just his second professional appearance. He went on to play for QPR, Leeds United, Watford, and a number of league teams. He also helped Burnley secure their place in the Premier League for the first time ever.

It was off the pitch, however, that Clarke became best known. He was vocal and passionate about his own battles with drink and depression which led to a spell at the Sporting Chance Clinic. Clarke spoke openly about both the difficulty in dealing with such issues in sport and also the reluctance to discuss mental health more widely.

Clarke’s work in these areas, combined with his reputation as Britain’s cleverest footballer, saw him appointed Chair of the PFA, the footballers’ union. He was outspoken on areas around race and racism, players wages, and other controversial issues in and around the game. He became a regular commentator in the media offering an inside perspective on stories within the sport.

In presentations Clarke recounts his own story, the highs and the lows. He considers what it takes to achieve, and also to overcome apparently impossible odds. He examines what makes a team effective, the lessons to be learned from football, and also how his personal experience can inform how mental health is viewed.

Clarke has featured on news and sports programmes on ITV, Sky and the BBC, including Match of the Day 2. Away from sport he has appeared on Question Time, Countdown (where he won twice) and fronted his own BBC Three documentaries on mental health and racism in football.

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Clarke Carlisle on Kick it Out