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5 Lessons We Can Learn From Professional Footballers About Our Own Careers

Updated: Jun 13, 2020

I’ve really enjoyed listening to the Si Ferry Open Goal Podcast over the past year - Top footballers and a few heroes of mine are very candid with the host about success and failure in their careers. Apart from being entertaining, there are some great lessons from the interviews that we can all translate to our careers.

1 – Don’t let early failures impact the rest of your career

Scotland International Andy Robertson started his career in the Celtic youth team before being released at 15 years old as he was not viewed good enough to play for Celtic. He kept working hard and joined Queens Park in the lower Scottish divisions while working in part-time jobs. Fast forward to 2018 and Robertson is one of the highest-rated full-backs in England and playing in the Champions League Final for Liverpool.

Don’t let early failures set you back – Keep your eye on the big goal

2 – If the team doesn’t play you to your strengths it’s time to think about a move

A common theme throughout the interviews is that there are often circumstances when a player’s strengths don’t meet the requirements of their team. This is not because they are not great players, it is just because it is not the right environment for them to exhibit their strengths.

Top target men such as Hartson and Kyle were very strong and good in the air, but not fast. However, at times in their career, their manager wanted a speedier striker. It didn’t mean they weren’t good players; their style just didn’t fit the way the team wanted to play.

If your strengths don’t meet the needs of your team, go somewhere your strengths are valued

3 – You don’t have to be good at everything, just make sure you are very good at something.

By their own admission, lots of great strikers don’t contribute a huge amount to the team outside of scoring goals. The same way lots of great defenders stop but don’t score lots of goals. It doesn’t matter, they are very good at what they do and that’s why they are so valuable.

Pick a valuable skill and become very good at it, rather than average at lots of skills

4 – Find a great mentor and manager that has faith in you

Another very common theme throughout the interviews is that most players had 1 or 2 managers or coaches who support them throughout their career. By the same token, there were brilliant players who couldn’t work with brilliant managers and they underperformed. It’s clear how important having a great relationship with their manager is to a players success.

Find a great manager/mentor and make sure you value the relationship - it will help your career

5 – A great attitude and ambition is just as important as ability

There are players, who in my humble opinion underachieved in their careers. I’ll let you decide who they are. In contrast, there are also interviews with players who overachieved in relation to their technical ability. By far the biggest difference between the “underachievers” and “overachievers” is their attitude. This comes across clearly in the interviews.

A great attitude will take you a lot further than natural ability alone!

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