If you were to ask young children what they want to be when they grow up, you could bet that a high proportion of young boys in particular will dream about becoming a professional footballer. Having seen their heroes at the weekend, the youngsters will be in the parks and playgrounds trying to emulate Messi, Ronaldo and Rooney - imitating even their goal celebrations. The chance to play Football for a living, to earn the adulation of the public and to be paid millions are all huge incentives for them to follow their dreams. Sadly, most parents know full well that only the few will make it.

According to a study compiled by the broadcaster ESPN in April 2014, players for Manchester City are the best paid sportsmen in the world. On average, first team players earn £5.2million a year which equates to a staggering £102,653 a week. They have overtaken baseball and NFL stars and eclipse the Spanish giants of Barcelona and Real Madrid. Four other Premiership clubs -Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool - are all in the top 20, with Liverpool's stars only the twentieth best paid players at £3.4 million a year. For the layman, such colossal sums are unimaginable and would equate to a life of privilege, fast cars, expensive houses and being financially set up for life.

This week, Giancarlo Stanton from the world of baseball signed a record breaking contract earning him £208 million over 13 years, equating to £307,692 a week. He is not however the highest paid earner in sport. According to the Forbes list, that accolade goes to boxer Floyd Mayweather, who earned over $100 million (£67 million) last year. Ronaldo comes in second at £51.1million and Messi fourth with £41.3 million. England's Wayne Rooney does not make the top 10, despite earning £15 million a year, or £300,000 a week. Sports People who make it to the top of their game are certainly very well rewarded. However inconceivable it may be to the ordinary person in the street, earning vast sums of money does not guarantee long-term financial security.

This week former England international David James, who won 53 caps for England, was declared bankrupt. During his career, James played for two of the Premiership's highest playing clubs, Liverpool and Manchester City, and amassed a personal fortune of £20 million. From the highs of playing for England in the World Cup, it must have been a terrific fall from grace for David James as items of his football memorabilia were auctioned off. The England shirt he wore in the famous 2002 victory against Argentina was one of the star attractions and sold for £672. A range of his personal effects was sold off including a car, his record collection and decks, a chainsaw and a giant sculpture of an I Love NY mug. James is not the first professional footballer to suffer the same fate.

Back in 2009, fellow Liverpool and England star John Barnes also filed for bankruptcy over unpaid taxes. Other recent examples include Manchester United's Keith Gillespie and Eric Djemba-Djemba, and Aston Villa's Lee Hendrie. Last year, Hendrie agreed to be interviewed about his plight on Radio 4's You and Yours. In the programme he was quite frank about his situation and admitted "I was earning spectacular sums of money ... At one point, on bonuses, you're talking £30,000-plus a week." In line with his earnings, Hendrie succumbed to the temptations that his salary could offer and bought flash cars, nice houses and enjoyed exotic holidays.

His financial problems occurred when he went through a costly divorce and he was then encouraged by his father to invest his money. After taking financial advice, he decided to take up a £10 million property portfolio. This prove to be a wrong decision and he lost everything. It wasn't that he had "wasted money on gambling or that I didn't care about money," he simply made a wrong decision at a time when perhaps it wasn't the best time to invest. This decision cost him his security and nearly his life -Hendrie attempted suicide on two occasions.

Even those we hold in high esteem are not invincible and are prone to making mistakes. Without someone to guide them, footballers in particular can earn life-changing sums of money at a young age but do not have the maturity to know how to handle it. In a best case scenario, they will have a career spanning only twenty years, and won't necessarily be earning top dollar for the whole of it. With such vast sums of money at their disposal and the exuberance of youth, lessons in financial planning, thrift and economy are likely to fall upon deaf ears. Yet without it, they are likely to suffer a heavy fall like Hendrie, Barnes and James as they are drawn to the temptations of excess and ostentation. Try explaining this to the young boy dreaming about becoming a footballer. The media portrays it to be an ideal lifestyle; is it really one to which we should be aspiring?