Never About Where You Start

Our Secret Academy Player talks about the importance of being at an academy and if it is important is it more important to work hard.

Have you ever played at a park with a player that plays at an academy in your country and you completely own them?

Have you ever been at an amateur club and seen players getting recruited to academies that you’re clearly better than?

Are you a parent of a football player whose child is at an amateur club and you’re trying to figure out what to do?

Do you see other kids on your team or at your club getting scouted and you’re not and you’re thinking there must be something wrong with you or those players are much better than you?

Well stop it and stop it now. I get a lot of emails, messages from young players wanting to know…how did you get into that Academy?

It’s one of the best in Europe? Wow you must be really good. Yes my ego would tell me I am great of course I am, that’s why I am at this academy, then I look to my left, and look to my right and look in the mirror and go “how did that kid get in here if this is one of the best academy in Europe?

He plays like he just started playing football and I take an objective look at my self and go yes I’m good but I can be way better but that may just be the inner me who is never satisfied and is always looking to get better.

However, fact is and any kid playing academy football in Spain, Germany, Italy, France, Netherlands or any part of Europe would tell you that they have teammates that makes you question if you’re at the right academy.

They have teammates that make them go that they have played with players at amateur teams much better than them.

Even when you play the other big teams on your schedule, you question weather they are fit to play against you.

The long drawn out point I’m trying to make is this, if you are not at an academy, it does not mean a dam thing.

Sure the training might not be as good but who’s to say that you won’t pickup more from your current coach than from an academy coach who is result focused (otherwise they lose their jobs).

Yes you get the sexy name, I play for Manchester United, I play for Real Madrid, I play for PSG… but what does that all mean when you are not developing?

What does that all mean when you hit 16/17/18 and you get dropped or do not earn a pro contract or earn a pro contract and are stuck being loaned out and eventually released or become a journeyman at a precious young age of 20?

What are those that are not part of academies to do and I know it’s easier said than done is to ask themselves what is my long-term goal? To play pro? How do I get there? What am I doing now to move me closer to it?

The answer to those questions have to be developing my weaknesses into strengths and strengthening my strengths.

Ask John Terry how many boys he played with at U15/U16 U10/U9 that were “better” than him at a very young age but never turned pro much less have 2% of the career that he had.

Ask Neymar how many players he played with at Santos that are currently playing pro.

Ask Lionel Messi how many players in his hometown club in Argentina before he got sold to Barcelona ended up playing pro and how many of them made it out of Argentina.

I’m not going to hit you with the good sounding “hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard” because it’s a given, if you are a driven person you’ll work hard, that goes without saying if your goal is to reach the top of your sport.

Yes hard work is a key ingredient, hunger like there’s no backup plan (and there should be) should be your light, however sometimes it takes luck, right circumstance, proper planning and mapping, a strong team at home that believes in you, mentors or a mentor that will help guide you and most of all – TOTAL AND UNASHAMED SELF BELIEF IN YOURSELF.

People will doubt you so much that you’ll start to doubt yourself, coaches will try to mold you into their failed image, clubs will try to mold you, parents on the sidelines would say things that they think is quiet but you can see with body language and hear at times that might make you question yourself if you don’t have self belief.

The road to your destination is paved with falling, failing, being told you can’t and you wont but if you believe in yourself, put in the work, you have a shot.

No one knows or remembers how many goals Cristiano Ronaldo scored at U14, U15, no one cares or remembers how bad or how horrible Mbappe was at 14-years-old but what we do know is that players like that never stopped going when things got tough, never stopped believing when things got hard and even when the steps are small, they kept taking steps till they got to the door step and when the opportunity presented itself, they took it because they worked hard, believed in themselves and were internally driven.

That’s how you make it, your daily habits when no ones watching what do you do.

I’ll clue you in on what I do, I watch YouTube videos of players that play in my position and watch their movement, see what they do on and off the ball and try to emulate it.

I then go to the field that’s walking distance from my house and train by myself, go opposite of where everyone is and work on myself.

When I’m done if people are still there, I then try to implement parts of what I just learned.

We say Zlatan has an ego but why? because he has been told no so many times and kicked so many times that he’s now doing the kicking because it was that confidence that got him through the doubters.

I eat right, sleep right, dream big, work hard and trust that my abilities not my academy will shine in the end.

Kante was doubted through his career, Pogba was sent packing from United, Drogba didn’t hit it big till he got to Chelsea after playing for the non sexy named teams in France, Messi’s club sold him to Barca because frankly they didn’t think he was worth the cost of the growth medicine he needed, it was Ronaldo’s work ethic that stood him aside at United that propelled him above everyone.

There are far too many stories of players we adore now that didn’t start at the sexy clubs and when they did, didn’t play many if any minutes, they just believed and a series of fortunate events with your despite, pure desire and effort you put in that will get you to your destination.

Doing anything in life you see is a journey, it’s a road, sometimes long winding road that sees no end in sight until something somehow breaks in your favor that makes the journey worth it and makes you appreciate it that much more when you get it.

Look at Vardy’s story… do you really need more examples of more of your favorite players who did it the hard way and are now doing it their way?

How many ex big name club loanees looked like the complete article years ago and are now playing their trades at lesser clubs to rebuild their careers.

If you are a parent who sees things not going as planned for your son or daughter’s career, don’t be dismayed…don’t lose hope, believe that in life what is meant to be cannot be stopped by momentary discomfort.

If you are a player and your coach isn’t playing you like he’s playing the other boys on the team, don’t be dismayed lad….those other boys might not be around in 5 years.

Pay the price of the pain right now to be able to recant to everyone those days when things were difficult and you could not get into those top clubs or you are at those top clubs and you are on the bench.

Relax…. keep working, keep believing and when the tables turn you will say that told you so.

Let us know in the comments if you agree with this.

About the author: Secret Academy Player

Our Secret Academy Player is a Under-15's player for European Cup winning club and a current youth international.

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