Do You Want to Play Professional Soccer Here’s a Tip
Everyone wants to be the next Messi, Neymar or CR7 (Cristiano Ronaldo) these days. When I’m watching the young’uns play I hear people on the sideline say, “Oh he’s a little Messi,” or “he’s so fast he runs like Cristiano Ronaldo!” What many of these overenthusiastic parents and fans forget, is that there are millions of “little Messi’s” all over the world and if you want to give your kid a fighting chance to play professional soccer, you might want to take a different route.
People tend to “believe” great players have always been great. People think from a young age they were amazing and everyone who saw them was mesmerized. The reality is there are hundreds of players that are good at a young age then grow up to NOT live up to the hype.
Have you ever heard of Kerlon? If not let me introduce you to this fascinating player, who at a young age was praised as the next Pele or Maradona. His “Seal Dribble” made famous when he played in the junior squads of the Brazilian National team was replayed over and over by soccer enthusiast, experts and fanatics.
So where is Kerlon now? Kerlon is playing in the third division of the Brazilian League with Nacional Esporte Clube-MG. Kerlon is 24-years-old and he has fallen from Inter Milan to Nacional Esporte Clube.
How about the American player Adu, do you know him? Projected to D.C. United at the ripe ole age of 14, he was revered to be the savior for USA soccer and he even was compared to Pele. So where is he now? He went to Europe and played for Benifica, he played for the US National Team and now he plays at Philadelphia Union, which is a far cry to all the hype.
What about Jean Carlos Chera? He became famous on YouTube and has since been dropped by Santos FC and Genoa (ITA), and is now at the junior squads of Flamengo.
So what is my point in saying this? Well, there are thousands of kids out there and some mature quicker than others and play great soccer sooner. Some became famous and others didn’t. Some got notoriety and others didn’t. Some were at the right place at the right time while others weren’t. But, the reality is if you want to play professional soccer you should hope and train to have the skill like Messi, but you should learn the fundamentals needed for a prosperous career. What do I mean? Let me explain…
There is a lot that constitutes a GREAT soccer player like CR7 or Messi; skill, dedication, family support, right nurturing, right club, right coach, right teammates etc etc. My point being, you might be one of the best players in the world, but if other elements don’t add up then you will be just a “regular” soccer Joe. So let’s prepare to be a good soccer “Joe” and not be concerned with being a Messi. Just be the BEST element the coach needs for a certain function.
You might be thinking I’m ludicrous, and we should always train to be the best! Well, no shit amigo you should always train to be the best, but soccer is not only based on skill or soccer knowledge it is also based on luck and many other factors. There are a lot of average players playing in top leagues and these players aren’t near as good as Messi. These average players fit into the coaches’ scheme and they do the hard work that is needed.
So when you go from one club to another club, you should focus on becoming a great asset for the coach. What does the coach need? What is the coach looking for in the team? Figure out what he wants and work your hardest to be essential in his plans. You should prepare yourself to become a good professional so that you stay in the game and don’t fall off into obscurity. Today you might be the best player in your region, but if for whatever reason you start becoming mediocre, you will need other things to keep you at the top of the game. You should learn the politics of the game as much as possible. Your objective is to try to make it as far as possible in this sport and stay there. A soccer career is a short-lived career and you must make the most of it while you can.
So don’t try to be a Messi because very few people will achieve that. There are many GREAT players that fall into the unknown and it doesn’t mean they suck. It means they couldn’t handle being the average “Joe.” They couldn’t adapt to new needs. You should discipline yourself and focus on being a great professional with dedication; hard work, technique, leadership, drive, competitiveness, and you will find yourself playing professional ball and having a respectful soccer career. Having a good head is sometimes more powerful than quick feet.
NOTE: Kerlon, Adu and Jean Carlos Chera are all respectful soccer players and great professionals. By no means did I write this in an attempt to put them down, but my goal was to demonstrate that there are many youngsters that get the hype and then become average players or just drop off the face of the earth when they get older. You might be considered a Messi today, but tomorrow you might have to be a Gatusso. So mentally prepare yourself to be a Gatusso, and you will stay at the top level.
Roberto Avey is an ex-soccer player from Brazil. Club, Associação Atlética Ponte Preta in Campinas, São Paulo, Brazil, 1995-1998 under coach, Francisco da Silva Júnior “Chiquinho." He has since graduated from Midwestern State University in Texas, with a bachelor degree in journalism and helps coach teams in Southern California. Read more