The unfortunate reality for many young footballers in 2023 is being good enough is only a fraction of what it takes to sign a contract.
The formula I followed to sign my first professional contract in 2020 was:
Luck + preparation = seized opportunities
I treated football as a numbers game and recognized I needed to network with the right people if I ever wanted a chance of achieving my dream.
From an outsider looking in, success to me was merely a phantom I was continuing to chase to make life more meaningful and enjoyable.
Even though after college I was failing spectacularly in many different ways (football, relationships, income, mental health), the genuine happiness from partaking in the journey to reach my desired outcome resulted in some of the best years of my life.
Financially broke, physically beaten down and mentally clocked out, the years from amateur to professional will rock you to your core, but it will in turn create the skill sets needed to make it in this game.
Whether you choose to accept the time horizon needed to obtain these skill sets is dependent on the player and person, but understand this, the skills needed to sign a contract and expertise to retain a contract are drastically different.
When I signed my first contract at 26 years old I was running on literal fumes.
The journey from graduating college to playing professional football lasted 27 months.
I lived in 4 cities, spent $15,000+ traveling to tryouts/open events, got scammed multiple times by agencies/combines and tore/fractured multiple different muscles/bones.
My mental fortitude was definitely lacking during this point of my career, but the truth of the matter is I was exhausted…
By the time the stars aligned for me and I was able to find a professional team to play for, I had less than $500 in my bank account and was on the verge of homelessness.
Among many other things, the lack of money I was making from my first professional club drove me to look for other options for the 2021 season.
The honest truth was I couldn’t afford to play professional football.
Whether you’re playing this game for recreational purposes or have aspirations of making it to the highest level, the financial burden of playing football will have a larger impact on you than you can imagine.
The boots you wear, the amateur club you decide to play for, the combines you attend, the personal training needed to guide you through the correct positioning/form is all correlated to your monthly income.
Your lack of understanding of how to make money will kill your football dreams faster than your lack of football skills will.
Let that sink in for a second…
If you don’t have the financial means and mental fortitude to spend without the expectation of receiving, your journey will end faster than it began.
The pain I felt struggling to pay rent while trying to perform consistently on the pitch was some of the most difficult years of my life.
Fast forward 3 years and the days of being broke are a distant memory, but the regret of not being able to figure out my income quicker still lingers to this day.
Last month I had the privilege of being able to buy my first supercar at 29 years old. A dream come true?
But the person I had to become to drag my time horizon by the balls to the present and be able to afford this car is the same person who drove DoorDash to pay for his rent not so long ago.
The person you are today is not the same individual needed to get to where you want to be…
What are you willing to sacrifice to afford the change needed to achieve your dream?
Although making money after football may always seem like an available option to you, the skill sets needed to attend combines/tryouts without the cost of financial hardship will be more difficult to obtain than actually signing a professional contract, for some of you.
Whether you decide to start your journey to financial freedom today or not is your own business, but if you eventually let the lack of money stop you from pursuing your dream then let this article serve as a stark reminder that you have only yourself to blame when your account hits $0.
The ultimate weapon in business as in football is speed…
Speed is everything.
All else being equal, the fastest company to adapt and the fastest player to overcome will always win.
Without a sense of urgency, the desire to continue working will eventually lose its value.