Sheffield Wednesday footballer Richard Hinds has achieved a first class honours degree in Law from the OU.
The League One defender has juggled his studies alongside the demands of full-time football and also while battling back to fitness after a badly broken left leg.
More recently Richard became a dad for the first time - and daughter Abigail’s arrival coincided exactly with him sitting his final OU exams!
Although often finding his days off and spare time eaten up by study commitments, he remains an advocate of the notion that it is better to prepare for a future away from football while you are still in it.
"Football’s really a very short career and it can end at any moment. It might be a bit of a cliche, but it really struck home when I broke my leg a couple of years ago," he says.
"At the time I’d already started my Law degree and to be honest it just cemented my view that you should retrain for the future while you’re still playing.
"If I’d had to finish playing at that time I’d have been two or three years off finishing the course and that would’ve been time wasted in terms of not being qualified, having no job and having no income coming in."
With the Professional Footballers' Association keen to encourage more current players to re-train for the future, the OU is becoming a popular route for many due to the flexibility of their programmes.
"The OU offers lads who are playing the opportunity to go out and get a degree while to a certain extent allowing you to work at your own pace," adds Richard.
"They were great with me, to be honest, and the level of support and quality of online support they’ve provided has been different class. It’s just a case of building on that good work now and looking at the next phase which will be a Legal Practice course."
Ever wondered which sporting stars have studied with the OU? Well...
- Jillie Cooper, badminton
- Footballer Craig Brown, Rangers, Dundee, Falkirk and former Scotland Manager
- Dave Sexton, West Ham, and former manager of Chelsea and Manchester United
- Vikram Solanki, Worcestershire and England cricketer
- Mark Mayerhofler, former All Black and rugby union player
- Fabrice Muamba, Arsenal, Birmingham and Bolton Wanderers footballer
- Jason de Vos, Canada and Ipswich Town footballer
- Derek Stillie, Dundee United (and others) goalkeeper, also did an OU Law degree
- Michelle Sole, downhill skier
- Katie O'Brien, tennis player
- Footballer Espen Baardsen, Watford, Tottenham Hotspur, Norway. (Got a BA Hons in Social Sciences with Economics in 2003)
- Rugby player Tyrone Howe (rugby)
- Racing driver Damon Hill
- Footballer John Curtis, Manchester United, Blackburn Rovers