RAMON Calliste apparently had the world at his feet as a gifted footballer as a teenager – and now claims he’s set up for life.
Called the ‘next Ryan Giggs’, he played for Manchester United’s youth team and trained with first-team stars Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney.
However, in 2006 a horrific ankle injury forced the Cardiff-born starlet into early retirement.
Then in 2013 he started his own business – selling high-end watches for over £250,000.
Today, Calliste lives a dream life in Dubai while running her stunning designer jewelry and accessories boutique in the heart of London’s exclusive Mayfair.
If you’re looking for a classic Rolex Daytona for £30,000, or even a collectible Hermès handbag priced around £20,000, her Global Boutique on South Molton Street is the place to be for that kind of luxury.
This allowed Ramon and his family to enjoy a more supported lifestyle that he would have enjoyed had he continued in football.
Speaking to SunSport from his home in Dubai, Calliste revealed: “Watches have always been a passion of mine.
“I learned the trade quite quickly, became obsessed with Rolex references and the business has thankfully grown since then.
“We recently launched a very high-end luxury store in Mayfair, and I’m happy to say it’s doing very well.
“We sell watches, beautiful jewelry, and we have a number of accessories, including Hermès bags, which we are going to develop because they are selling very well.
“Having Mayfair premises, with the number of customers who come from all over the world and the type of customers we attract, has been amazing for business.”
Previously, Calliste told SunSport that he sells watches for around £50,000-70,000.
And he often gets a sale for £150,000-250,000 in a market where customers can make money from coins that become collectables over time.
Ramon’s company earns around £5m a year, more than he could have earned as a professional footballer.
“It’s still a Rolex-led business, so those are the most popular.
“But there are always the big items, the Patek Philippes, the Audemars Piguets and the Richard Milles that sell for huge prices.”
Calliste looks back on his football career with tenderness. In 2000, he signed a contract with Manchester United alongside Sir Alex Ferguson.
Recalling that moment, he told us: “When I arrived at Old Trafford I met Sir Alex Ferguson which was an incredible experience.
“Seeing everything for the first time, I entered the famous room where everyone meets him.
“He was a special, I wasn’t fazed by a lot when I was young, but he had the aura of a great man.”
Ramon didn’t play for United’s first team but he had the chance to train with some of their superstars.
“We didn’t always train with the first team, but sometimes we had five-a-side matches.
“I aspired to train with them permanently, and it was amazing when I had the opportunity.
“I trained with Rooney and Ronaldo which was a big deal.”
An injury ruined his career
After Ramon was released from Old Trafford, he played for Liverpool reserves.
He was their top scorer in the 2005-06 season, but left for Scunthorpe for first-team opportunities, after then-Wales manager John Toshack told him he needed to play more .
“It wasn’t initially what I wanted to do but Toshack told me I had to play competitive football if I wanted to get into the Wales first team,” he said. .
“I thought, let’s do this and I took a contract. Before the season, I injured my ankle straight away and I never really recovered from it.”
By 2009, Ramon had decided he had had enough of football.
He had spells at Cambridge City and West London Saracens in the Middlesex County Football League but was plagued with a dislocated ankle injury which robbed him of his dream.
Living the dream
But everything happens for a reason. Now Calliste is happy in the Middle East. Her children flourish in a new environment and fate has given her another vocation.
“I feel lucky to be in a makeshift position to help myself and my family,” he said.
“Dubai is a very beautiful and safe place and a huge market center. There are opportunities here and there is also a lot of money here.
“It was a global decision for my family and for my children who have excelled in school here.
“Compared to where I started when I was younger, my life has changed incredibly.
“I have now built something that lasts forever. When you play football you have a certain lifespan.
“Now I consider this injury a blessing. I am very grateful for my change of direction, even if it was difficult to accept at the time.
“However, I am grateful that this path has been very good for me…may it continue for a long time.”