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Making it to become a professional footballer requires a combination of attributes to allow you to progress beyond each obstacle which you are faced on the long and winding road to the elite level.
There will be many hurdles to overcome and to deal with these you will require a deep skill set which goes way beyond the basic fundamentals of the beautiful game…
To make it as a professional footballer you need a certain level of natural, technical ability – this is a formality.
This can come in many ways through ball control, dribbling ability, shooting technique, tackle-timing, and passing range – or a combination of many.
But whichever trait it is, you have to have to specialise in it to a level of ability which is recognisable, to a respectable extent.
It is something which can and will have to be enhanced to make it at professional level, but you will need that natural spark in there somewhere and without that, you are starting at a serious disadvantage.
It is extremely difficult to turn somebody who is totally skill-less into a pro. But you do not need to be Lionel Messi from day one.
The point being, that you need a base which can be developed and worked on and that is just the beginning.
You might have all of the technical ability in the world, but to make it as a professional footballer you must combine this with a tactical understanding of the game, otherwise you will stand out like a fish out of water.
Tactical knowledge includes positioning and game management.
Without these core assets, you will be unable to reach the professional level, as it is a staple requisition.
You need to be able to read the game better than your opponent, understand when to cover your team mate, keep possession, take the risk, or follow the run of the opposing player.
Otherwise you will become a liability, regardless of all the wonderful natural ability you may possess.
There are many ways to develop your tactical knowledge of the game and your coaches will always assist you with this.
But the key is to remember that you are playing for the team and not as an individual and your decisions should be made with that in mind.
Alongside ability and tactical understanding, mentality is one of the most crucial attributes which a player needs to make it as a professional footballer.
Hard work, dedication, handling pressure, overcoming problems and a willingness to learn.
There are so many hurdles to becoming a professional footballer and unless you have an incredibly supportive group of people around you, and even still, you will need an insanely strong mentality to overcome the inevitable set-backs that a professional footballer endures and deal with the enormous sacrifices they must make.
Putting the work in every day, to improve your fitness and technique takes dedication.
Handling the pressure of the big games, knowing the scout has his eyes on you. You can’t let that disrupt your game mentally.
Getting your head back up when you hear you have not been signed this time round, or you have been dropped to the bench.
Many would let that get the better of them and that is what will separate even the most technically and tactically gifted players from going all of the way.
You must take on a willingness to learn from everyone you interact and work with, take something from them all and channel it positively.
Put stubbornness and ego to one side and embrace those more experienced.
It can be incredibly hard as a youngster, but it will make all of the difference and you will require discipline, focus and dedication.
To achieve an insane level of fitness and maintain it, when others around you are partying and enjoying themselves.
These are the sacrifices which will test whether you have the mentality or not.
*This post was published with permission from Scout Afriq.
Written by Anthony Musker
To read more of his work, then please check out his fantastic website: Scout Afriq
Follow Scout Afriq on Twitter @ScoutAfriq
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