Posted: February 18th 2017

It's a question I've encountered loads of times…


"What if you don't make it?"


I remember my childhood hero, Shaun Chapple, mixing cement

outside his house opposite mine. Shaun was a Swans youth player

at the time, so I asked my old man Buzz " What's Shaun doing



"Ronnie (Shaun's Dad) is teaching him a lesson son."


"What lesson is that Dad?" I said.


"He may need something to fall back on if he doesn't make it.

Ronnie's a bricklayer, so he's probably teaching Shaun another

skill he can use to get work"


Ah right, I thought.


Funnily enough. I ended up working for about 6 months as a

Bricklayers’ labourer myself. Mixing cement for Buzz's two

mates 'Zagalo' (named after the great Brazilian player and

Coach) and Walter.


(The boys on the site called them 'The Hillbillies')


ANYWAY.. although the 'Hillbillies' were great, the job of mixing

cement and stacking bricks bored me senseless.


It helped me realise I wanted to do something that excited

me - coaching!


But for the young player making his way in the game...


It can be harder than the choice I had - boredom or excitement.


For them, it can be the other way around...


Excitement v boredom.


AKA - Football v school / job other than Football?


And what gets missed, in my opinion, is that it doesn't have to

be a career choice between 'burning your ships' so it's do or die,

or half-heartedly ‘hedging your bets’ in case the worse



It’s a crying shame because there’s a big wide world out there

FULL of possibilities for EVERY wannabe player.


And here’s the big ‘lightbulb moment’ I want ALL aspiring players to



Developing yourself on the pitch, can help you play better ON it.




Here’s the BIG secret…




SKILLS are transferable.


As one of my mentors said “Everything is an example of something



The brain is a pattern-recognition device that allows you to take

‘patterns’ from one context and apply them in another.


“Football is a game which requires players to solve problems

quickly. If a boy is studying maths, he has to problem solve. If he

gets better at doing that in the classroom, we believe he’ll be better

at doing it on the pitch.”


Said Matt Hale, Director of Southampton FC’s industry-leading

Academy, said in a recent 4-4-2 magazine interview.


Brilliant. A Club that truly ‘gets it’.


That doesn’t mean every players needs to be an academic genius.


It’s not just Maths, but a whole host of transferrable life skills we’re

talking about here.


· Planning

· Managing Time

· Managing emotions

· Communication Skills

· Decision-making (under pressure)

· Know How To Look After Your Body


You need all of these, and a few more, to be successful both on

and off the pitch (in any walk of life). And especially in the modern world


Yet few young players are developing them.

And THAT’s why they find themselves in a sink-or-swim scenario.

Not because ‘the chances of making it are slim’.

Have a great weekend


PS - I want to be clear on this because I don't want anyone getting

the wrong end of the stick:


If you want to be the absolute best you can be at anything, you

need to devote yourself to it...whether that is Football or anything

in life.


A lot of families of aspiring players struggle juggling the demands

of Football and 'other important things' in life. It's not always easy, that's

for sure. Here's something to think about though...


Roberto Martinez said studying for a degree while training full-time

In Football allowed him to switch off completely from one to the other,

Which he found helpful. Rugby players are much more into this 'culture'


And even the Football-obsessed ‘Fergie’ had his distractions…



Imagine the difference in Paul Gascoigne (AKA Gazza) if he could

have found more 'healthy distractions' outside Football?


Some players require more stimulation…therefore balancing other

interests with Football can work great. They can even feed each other.