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10 steps on How to become a professional footballer

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Set high standards like Virgil van Dijk has. 

So, you wanna become a professional footballer? Well you’ve come to the right place because we’ve got everything you need to know about turning pro. Reach out to your team-mates and our experts with the hashtag #profootballers. Then, share your expertise and tips with your team-mates as you begin your journey to football’s top table. At 13,” says Arsene Wenger, “you would have needed about one minute to know that Lionel Messi was the real thing. Most players aren’t so obvious.” This, in other words, is where the real work starts. You’ve got talent, that much is clear, but knowing what else you need to make it as a professional footballer – and there’s a lot – is vital. “Dedication” and “sacrifice” are the words used , but what do they mean in real terms? If you are thinking about becoming a professional footballer, read this!

Step 1: Have a Burning Motivation

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If you want to become a professional soccer player for the money or fame, then stick to playing for fun. You need to have the sort of drive and passion where playing at a top level matters more to you than getting paid top money. To have the sort of grit and determination to get through all the stresses, downs and pressures of playing professionally, you need to have a true love for the game or you’ll just end up being very unhappy. For example, I could care less about how much I’m paid if I played at Chelsea, but the experience of training at top players and top facilities, playing every week in big stadiums would beat any salary. What’s your motivation?

Step 2: Train 10,000 Hours

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Want to be the next Ronaldo? Practice 10,000 hours!

Recent studies have found that the key to success in any field is practicing a specific task for a total of around 10,000 hours. Therefore, a player must train and/or play football for at least 10,000 hours before reaching ‘world class’ status. That’s around 3 hours a day, 20 hours a week for 10 years.

Step 3: Train Smart

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Training smart is as equally important, if not more important than training hard. In team trainings, you follow what the coach wants the team to do, but not what you need to train as an individual player. Each player has their own unique set of skills, which is why it’s extremely important to train on your own or with small groups, so you can improve your specific weaknesses and make your strengths, second nature. I’ve created a program to help players train on their own here.

Step 4: Believe You Can Achieve

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Coaches saying you’re not good enough, making mistakes and players yelling and screaming at you. This is an everyday occurrence in professional football and you must have a deep belief to get you through all the negativity you’ll encounter. That belief has to come from somewhere. In my case, I always looked at players whom I knew that were at professional standard and believed that ‘if he could do it, I could it’. I have a deep-rooted belief in the formula that belief + hard work (and smart work) + persistence = success. To become a professional footballer, you need to the sort of belief where you believe you can move mountains.

Step 5: Create a Killer Video

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A promo video of yourself these days in the modern age of high-speed internet and YouTube is essential to getting as much interest as possible. If you have a good video that makes it easy for people to assess your skills, it’s easier to get opportunities with teams. As the agent who discovered Messi, Josep Maria Minguella said: “I only discovered Leo Messi through video”. Through just one, ten minute video filmed with a HD video camera, I got over $120,000+ in scholarship offers and it helped me get trials with many clubs. Get family or friends to film you training and playing and make sure the video quality is excellent.

Step 6: Create a great CV

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Just like applying for a job, a football CV should be able to explain to a coach – or club, agent… – all about who you are as a player, in less than a minute. Include a player photo, height/weight, positions, experience, links to articles you’ve been featured in and statistics. More information on creating a good CV can be found here. Luckily for you, football network Fieldoo allows you to create and share a player CV online. You can even go the extra mile by creating your own website like I did.

Step 7: Find Opportunities

Now that you have the skills and the tools, you have to find ways to show off your talent. Here are a few ways to find opportunities:

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  • If you’re under 18, lookout for trials in local youth academies.
  • Email and call as many clubs as you possibly can, but don’t expect replies (you may need to email 50 clubs before receiving a reply!).
  • Check out the Market on Fieldoo.com for opportunities abroad.
  • Consider getting an agent, however many agents can be very deceiving, so be careful.
  • Some players have famously been accepted into pro teams, just by showing up to a practice session with their boots and asking if they could train with them.

Step 8: Perform Well

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It’s easy to only think of getting to the next level, instead of focusing on your performances in matches. Take your football career game-by-game. Every game you play, focus on playing well and giving 110% as you never know who could be watching. Make sure you build good relationships with your teammates, coaches and club staff as having their off-field support will contribute to good on-field performances.

Step 9: Be Persistent (Be Patient)

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I knew it was going to be difficult, but trying to become a professional player was tougher than anything I ever imagined. That’s because becoming a professional soccer player doesn’t happen overnight. It doesn’t take months either. It takes years and a lifetime of dedication. When you hear people say that success takes ‘blood, sweat, tears’, they’re totally right. In football, no one ever cheated their way to becoming one of the less than 0.001% of the 240 million players worldwide, that ‘made it’. It takes time and patience. Sometimes you have to wait for the right opportunity. Sometimes it takes just a bit of luck to swing your direction, but being persistent and having the ability to never give up will determine whether you’re successful or not.

Step 10: Sign a Contract!

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The final step in realizing your professional dreams is signing a pro contract with a club. Contracts should be carefully looked over in detail first, and if it’s your first contract, get it looked over by someone with experience in the area. Be careful when dealing with agents and take careful note of training compensation and player ownership issues.

So there you have it, first 10 steps towards becoming the professional football (soccer) player you dreamed yourself of becoming. Good luck on the journey!

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