In Europe, soccer (or football as it is called in the EU and UK) is the most popular team sport. Over the years, soccer has grown from a sport played for the fun of it on the streets, to a global multi-billion dollar (euro and pound sterling) industry.
Many children grow up watching the sport on TV and aspiring to reach the heights of their favorite players who hail from all across the globe and many parents are active in helping their children pursue this dream knowing what successes it could entail.
Here are some key points to note if you want to learn how to become a professional soccer player in Europe:
- Start Early
- Be Consistent With Training & Train HARD
- Get Experience Playing On Local Teams
- Join A Club’s Youth Team
- Perfect Your Skills Alone (Not Just During Team Training)
If you have your heart set on playing professional soccer in the UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) and believe you have what it takes, you should pay attention to the following advice. The information presented here is not guaranteed to make you a professional player within a European league. However, it will put you on the right path to achieving your dream.
Understanding the Talent Development Process for European Soccer Leagues
Most soccer players in Europe (and around the world) are developed to play soccer from a young age. Players who want to play professionally start the grooming process between the ages of 6 – 11. Most parents typically sign their kids up early with a youth team for a particular club. This is usually the closest to where they live so they can attend regular practise. Every professional soccer franchise in Europe usually has a youth team for finding talent.
This is what is meant by “Start Early”. If you are a parent with professional player aspirations for your child, this is easy to do; however, if you are a teen trying to learn about the process – do not be discouraged. Even if you have started later than some youth, understanding the talent development process for European soccer leagues will be just as useful to you going forward.
Soccer academies also do the same thing as youth teams. However, students who are enrolled in these academies also receive an education. This allows them to have a career and job prospects in the event they don’t turn pro.
Again, children as young as six are sent through this portal to prepare them for a possible professional career.
What If You Do Not Get Accepted Onto A Club’s Youth Team Or An Academy?
Here’s what you must understand if you don’t get signed up for some type of soccer academy or with a club’s youth team; you limit your chances of going pro. Most European soccer players realize from an early age that they want to play this game. So, training starts early.
However, if you are between the ages of 12 – 16 and you have talent, you can still attend tryouts at a youth academy. If you’re good enough, the academy will accept you in. You will live, train, and receive an education while attending this soccer developing facility. International students from the U.S. and other countries can also tryout to attend these academies as well. The most successful teams have academies in place for this purpose.
Important Advice for European Soccer Players Between 16 – 21
By the time a player is 16 years old, their talent should be developed enough for trainers and teams to assess their level of skill. In other words, a team and trainer will be able to tell who has a promising shot at going pro.
But the sad reality is that most teens who have a professional contract still will not become successful professional players. It has been estimated that by 16 years old only 1 in 6 players from an academy ends up becoming a professional soccer player.
The remaining 5 players may continue to play at a semi-pro level none-the-less or continue to play soccer as a hobby while they move on to something else. While this might seem disheartening, this is the reality of exactly how competitive the industry is. Similarly, being armed with this knowledge should do more to inspire you to go at this full-heartedly, if you want it badly enough rather than throw in the towel.
If this information just makes you want to go harder, then you will appreciate the next section even more and treat this post as a guide on how to become a professional soccer player in Europe (or anywhere else in the world where soccer is most popular)
Be Consistent With Training And Train Hard!
Only the best of the best will be chosen to play professionally. So, if you still have your mind made up about becoming a professional soccer player in Europe, here is where the key point about being consistent with training and training hard come into play.
The key to overcoming this issue of beating the competition is to train seriously from an early age, to get enrolled at a premier soccer academy, and to compete with the best players (teams) in the region.
By the way, if you’re over 21 you’re trying to play soccer professionally, you can still make it, but you better be an exceptional player at an open tryout session. Otherwise, sorry to burst your bubble, but… it isn’t going to happen.
Don’t forget that soccer academies are better for developing professional players than youth teams. They are more effective because students live at the training facilities and have more opportunities for training and practice. Not only that, but the environment keeps them focussed. Their peers eat, sleep and live soccer just like them so there are less distractions.
Also, academies typically attract the best players from across Europe and from around the world. International students should sign up with a soccer academy for this reason. The bottom line is that becoming a professional soccer player in Europe is doable. Still, a person will have to begin training early age to improve their chances of fulfilling this dream.