#25 How to be a professional footballer, by some of the best players in the game
After numerous interviews with some of the best footballers on the planet, we have gained some insight into their careers and how they made it as professionals.
We’ve spoken to Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Cesc Fàbregas, David Beckham, Deli Alli, John Stone, Joe Hart, Steven Gerrard, Rio Ferdinand, Kevin De Bruyne, Renato Sanches and many more. What is apparent from every player interviewed is that self-belief, hard work and enjoying the game are key ingredients to becoming a successful footballer. Watch the short film to see what the players have to say about their careers, but we’ve also picked out a few lines below:
What are your earliest memories of football?
I think my first memory was Zidane’s double in the World Cup final. Cesc Fàbregas
I used to stand on the terraces and watch the likes of John Barnes and Peter Beardsley. They were two heroes of mine. Steven Gerrard
My dad used to help me and teach me to shoot with the laces. He used to love that. So every time he was like, ‘Héctor, you need to shoot with the laces.’ Those are the memories that I love the most. Héctor Bellerín
When I was younger I used to try and be like Steven Gerrard. Dele Alli
Running back from Stamford Bridge, straight on to the estate and kicking a ball with the lads in the pen. Fara Williams
Did you know you would make it?
I remember my mum going to a parents evening at school and one of my PE teachers said I wouldn’t make it as a footballer. Age 13-14, I got dropped down an age group, which hit me quite hard. When people see me now, they see the John Stones that plays in the Premier League. They don’t realise that you have gone through these tough periods. It was hard to see my friends playing in their age groups and I’m sitting on the bench for them and not getting a game and then the next day playing for the year below. It definitely spurs you on ge to that stage where they are, but also it teaches you a lot about yourself. John Stones
I was on trial at Wolverhampton Rovers when I was about 13 and they told me not to bother coming back. Joe Hart
Don’t ever doubt yourself because there are enough people in the world that are going to doubt you. Casey Stoney
How do you make the grade?
At that age you’re developing and trying to become a top player and you’re trying to strive to get to your dream and that level where you can become a professional at whatever club you’re at. Steven Gerrard
What are the differences between being good and great?
There are loads of players I could name who are 16-16 looked like world beaters but then at 21-22 they are subs in non-league. There comes a time in your career when the pennies got to drop, where you’ve got to understand decision making at the right, poignant moments in the game. When to pass, when to dribble, when to shoot. Game-changing moments, can you be the guy that sits there and takes the responsibility. And the great players do. Rio Ferdinand
Talent is important but it is not the key point. Cristiano Ronaldo
I think I need to gain more experience, improve on my calmness, and the rest will come in time. Renato Sanches
Consistency is a huge thing at the top. It’s hard to get to a good level, but once you get to a certain level, there’s people who want your place. Joe Hart
What have been the highlights of your career?
Professional debut. It was against West Brom. I had to come on as a centre mid and had a couple shots on target. I remember some of the players saying Hector defend, defend! Héctor Bellerín
Assisting the winning goal in the World Cup final. I don’t think anything can beat that. Cesc Fàbregas
Every kid’s dream is to play in the Champions League and to win it. To actually have achieved that was an amazing feeling. Gareth Bale
Being picked to be part of the World Cup squad, something I never thought I’d be doing. Starting in a World Cup game was a really, really special feeling – the build-up and the anticipation of the nation getting behind you was something really special and someting I’ll never forget even though the tournament didn’t go particularly well. Joe Hart
Is representing your country the pinnacle?
Of course it’s good when you win the Champions League, the league, the golden boot.. But when you win something for your country it’s completely different. Cristiano Ronaldo
The thing that stands out in my mind is singing the national anthem. Spotting my mum and dad in the crowd and seeing them crying. That will stay with me forever. John Stones
What is it like to lead a team?
My work ethic is something that I thought would help the team. David Beckham
You’ve got to take responsibility and to do everything in your power to get results.. Hopefully players look at that and try and follow it. Steven Gerrard
What makes a good captain is someone that can lead and someone who dies for their team. Cesc Fàbregas
What is the best advice you can give?
If you’re fortunate to have talent and getting paid for something you love doing.. All you’ve got to do is perform for 90 minutes. Paul Gascoigne
The main thing is to have fun as a kid. I still enjoy my football and its a job. Kevin De Bruyne
You should always do what you love and if your heart is in it anything is possible. David Alaba