The ex-Pompey player hitting the jackpot in Vegas

John Sullivan has swapped the world of football for the real estate game in Las Vegas
John Sullivan has swapped the world of football for the real estate game in Las Vegas

Berkshire Hathaway’s rookie recruit has already racked up 2.64m dollars in deals.

It was September 2015 when the newly-qualified realtor strolled onto the Las Vegas scene eager for a money-spinning opportunity.

Subsequently, the 27-year-old has delivered 11 Nevada property sales, with a top deal worth 555,888 dollars, and another four transactions pending.

John Sullivan’s reinvention has been breathless.

The summer of 2014 saw the Pompey goalkeeper turn his back on football.

The dark clouds were gathering, the candle burned to a stub. He had lost his way in the smothering gloom.

Following a decade as a footballer, Sullivan quit half-way through a two-year Fratton Park contract to retire from the professional game.

Grasped by tell-tale signs of depression, the Professional Footballers’ Association had already orchestrated counselling.

Yet Sullivan craved to escape – and headed to America.

Today he works for The Craig Tann Group – an off-shot of multinational conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway, specialising in Vegas property.

The Englishman abroad has struck the jackpot in Sin City.

Sullivan said: ‘There was no point being in football anymore, I was negative towards it, my heart wasn’t in it as much.

‘It was the perfect time to leave, I have absolutely zero regrets about walking away. There has not been a day I’ve woken up and missed it.

‘Fans turn up on a match day and see us in our suits with our hair done, admire our cars, but the reality is once the game is over most footballers go home to an empty flat and sit down on their own.

‘That is why so many footballers have problems with drinking and gambling. They are just bored.

‘I was showing signs of depression, was receiving counselling. There are so many more footballers out there going through the same.

‘When I quit Portsmouth was it a crazy decision? Of course it was. It was a crazy decision, maybe a little bit irresponsible. I had a year left on my contract and negotiated a pay-off.

‘I didn’t know I would be moving to America, it was just a case of seeing what happened.

‘Now every month I’m already making more money than I ever did in my football career – only six months into this business.

‘It was time for me to move on and try something else. I took a risk and now it is panning out.’

Recruited from Charlton by Guy Whittingham, Sullivan began the 2013-14 campaign as Pompey’s number one keeper.

Handed a debut in the opening day 4-1 defeat against Oxford United, he would play only six more times for the Blues.

By June 2014 he had negotiated his release and headed to Vegas, initially assisting in an English friend’s hospitality business.

Yet it was another career which attracted Sullivan and, following a two-week course at Real Estate School, in September 2015 he became a member of the Great Las Vegas Association of Realtors.

Sullivan added: ‘It is a fantastic career. I love it just as much, if not more, than my time in football.

‘I am employed by a company but it is zero salary, commission only.

‘There is pressure, it is a grind. Every day I put on a suit, am in the office for 7am, working until 8-9pm.

‘In the past week I have closed three deals and the feeling is just as good as making a save in a match. You close that deal, your clients are happy – and it feels absolutely great.

‘The houses for sale generally have an electronic lock box, allowing realtors access to every property in the whole of Vegas to show our clients around.

‘You are working every day, picking up the phone, ringing people who need to sell their house, organising meetings, looking for those who want to buy and sell. It is 14-hour days.

‘If somebody sells their house, generally fees reach 7.5 per cent. That is three per cent to the buyer’s agent, three per cent to the listing agent and then 1.5 per cent to title companies, effectively solicitors.

‘So if I sell a house for 500,000 dollars, my three-per-cent cut would be 15,000 dollars. That’s a big opportunity to make money.

‘Vegas is ridiculously cheap to live in. You can buy an unbelievable house for 500,000 dollars, which is the equivalent of £360,000, and have four bedrooms, three bathrooms, an outdoor pool and a garage that holds four cars.

‘Most realtors in their first full year complete, on average, six to eight deals. In six months I have closed 11.

‘There are 12,000 realtors in Vegas, but 10 per cent of them do 90 per cent of the business. I am probably in that 10 per cent mark already – and it is up to me to stay there and grow.’

In a much-travelled football career, Sullivan amassed 82 appearances from stays at Brighton, Millwall, Yeovil, Charlton, Colchester, AFC Wimbledon, Cambridge United, Whitehawk and, of course, Pompey.

Now the journey is over.

He said: ‘I have changed a lot of things about my life. I have taken the television out of my room, you are just fed junk and negativity.

‘I read, I watch a lot of YouTube inspiration videos, I’m a bit of a different person now, more relaxed and laid-back. I have grown up since I left football, I have a clearer view.

‘My buddy is trying to get me to play again in a Tuesday night league for a bit of fun, but I am too busy with work – that is as much of a rush for me now.

‘I occasionally miss goalkeeping training and working hard, but don’t ever sit and watch football thinking “That should be me playing”. I haven’t had that thought once since I left.

‘Sometimes I forget I even played football.

‘But there comes a time when you have to let things go and move on.’