What is the single word that ends the majority of football careers?
It can come when you least expect it.
It can last a day, a week, maybe even a year.
The physical pain from being a footballer is experienced by all.
Injuries happen. It’s part of the game. Sometimes it’s out of our control.
Even physiological pain is usually understood by most footballers.
The pain of being benched. The pain of being mocked by your coach. The pain of suffering a humiliating loss or blown lead. The pain of a long recovery after a devastating injury.
We accept the reality of playing the game we love makes us vulnerable to extreme discomfort.
What is rarely spoken about and shared publicly though is the pain that comes (and it will come) when you reach the point of your career when you’re alone.
I’m talking to the players who won’t be drafted, who aren’t signed at 18, and who are seemingly disregarded once they reach a certain age.
I’m talking to the 99%.
From a player who has experienced a tremendous amount of physical and psychological pain while pursuing his first professional contract, the ladder is what you need to be afraid of.
After undergoing a half dozen surgeries in 4 years of college soccer, rehab and time away from the game become normal.
I become mentally and physically strong enough to overcome the majority of the broken bones and torn muscles I sustained.
But, the endless months of being isolated, alone, feeling like a failure, broke and losing my love for the game, is another beast entirely.
There’s a breaking point for all of us. When we think we can’t take the pain anymore.
When the only thing we want to do is to stop the agony of our situation.
Usually this is where most players hang up their boots.
But for others who don’t see a way out, they decide to make foolish decisions based on temporary emotion to end their pain.
I’ve never told this story as I didn’t feel the need to share personal matters publicly at the time, but I almost jumped to my death from my apartment in Germany.
I was fortunate my value for life, football and family prevented me from making such a stupid decision at that moment, but the psychological pain of football is real, and if not taken seriously, it will have a significant impact on your career moving forward.
No matter how long it may last, pain is temporary.
It may make you suffer a day, a week, or even year, but eventually it will subside.
And what you will learn about yourself in the process will make you unbreakable in the years to come.
On the other side this imaginary wall of affliction, is a ball and pair of boots who will never give up on you.
Enjoy the journey. It goes by quickly.