WHO WANTS TO BE A FOOTBALLER?
So you have always dreamed of scoring the winning goal in the World cup finals like Andres Iniestas for Spain vs. Holland in 2010. Well so have millions of people. You also want to be surrounded by Russian models with names you can’t pronounce sipping Crystal and driving Bentleys and maybachs. Football is a harsh world and very competitive. Away from the cameras it is full of plots and subplots. Having played football myself I can share with you from personal experiences.
You will have teammates who are jealous of you and sometimes won’t even pass you the ball. I played as a forward/ striker. My job was to put the ball in the back of the net. If the fans love you some team mates will be jealous. If you get more TV interviews there is jealousy. If you sign a better contract than they did then there is also jealousy.
It is funny how we always end to have a distorted view on our abilities. If you are good enough you will get discovered. Chris Smalling was playing non league football and now he is playing for Manchester United. Admittedly it is very rare but it does happen.
My advice is not to worry too much about playing at the top level. Learn the craft of the game. Respect and listen to your coaches. The more you learn the better you will be. There are a lot of skilful players who never make it at the highest level. Part of the problem is their attitude. They prove difficult to get along with and are a detriment to the team. Football is a team game. Even if you are Maradona or Pele, someone still has to pass you the ball. Unless you are Maradona who dribbles half the England team to score in the world cup (apologies to England fans for evoking the memories!).
Keep working hard and applying yourself. Eventually you will get your break. I also have to emphasise you have to have some talent as well. If you cannot pass, dribble, control a ball, defend, attack, run and have stamina then you will struggle. Football requires skill and tactical awareness. Also practice for at least 1- 2 hours extra after training. The more you practice the better you become.
Football is a game followed by millions. There are also many other avenues to be involved in the game you love. Even if you don’t make it as a professional player, be flexible. You can become a coach, a radio or TV presenter, a pundit, football blogger (like yours truly!), football columnist etc. There also opportunities in marketing, community relations, football agent, player management etc. Find what you are god at and passionate about. Someone somewhere is willing to give you a chance. You have to start somewhere. Seize your opportunity and make the most of it.
I wish you nothing but success. When you make it don’t forget to give back and support others either through your time, advice, finances or all of the above. Everyone has to start from somewhere. I am too old – Didier Drogba did not start playing professionally till his 20’s, I am too small – Paul Scholes is not the biggest player in the world yet he is critical for Manchester United and also was pivotal as an England international with numerous caps. There is no excuse. It is your life. Make it happen
Contributing writer – Segun Ariyo (a.ka. MR. FOOTBALL)
and email firstname.lastname@example.org