Becoming a professional footballer is a very difficult goal, and young players ought to be realistic, while relentless, in their pursuit of this worthwhile dream.
It is a harsh reality that only a small percentage of aspiring players make it to the signing of a professional contract. Young players should understand this, and pursue a solid educational background in order to prepare for the likelihood of life outside of the beautiful game called football.
However, if you're determined and willing, then you have a better chance of achieving your football dreams than most. In part two of this article series, we'll cover three more tips for young aspiring players.
1. Good Character - Good character is "key" to making it as a pro (despite the occasional headlines you read about footballers behaving badly). It is important to remain humble and ensure you maintain a good moral character. Professional clubs are looking for players who are technically gifted, but of equal importance is the character the player possesses. Quite simply, a player with a bad attitude or temperament or behavioral or legal problems will not be easily introduced into a dressing room of a professional club that possesses a harmonious atmosphere.
2. 100% Effort - Always give 100 percent of your energy, effort, and focus to give yourself a chance of reaching your goal. Any player that gives 100 percent effort 100 percent of the time will inevitably increase his or her chances of success. Effort, hustle, and commitment are intangibles that allow less gifted players to even the playing field (so to speak). A hundred percent effort whenever a player steps on the pitch, in addition to skill and ability, is essential in a player becoming a professional player. Total commitment is required to be successful.
3. Representation, Contacts & Self-Promotion - Young players should begin now on their football curriculum (soccer résumé), adding all experience, awards and football accomplishments. Football video résumés allow young players to email coaches, scouts and FIFA agents their personal highlight reel, which can be effective in securing a trial with a professional team.
In North America, the MLS uses the college draft to bring in rookie professional players annually. If players aren't in college, or play football in a country outside North America, then they are more dependent on either contacts in pro football or scouts or agents that serve to introduce young players to professional academies for trials (typically only 2-3 days until clubs know if they want to see the player longer).
The dream of playing professional football - walking down the tunnel into a stadium full of football fanatics cheering you on - is the dream of all serious young soccer players. For those determined enough to follow the tips above (and in Part 1 of this article), they have a chance. And where there's a chance, it's possible.
My final advice to aspiring players worldwide: train every day with dedication as if you'll play professionally, but study also, with similar enthusiasm, should you not. Remember football is for everyone to enjoy, not just the professionals!
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