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A Playbook on How to Maximize your Playing Potential & Pursue Professional Opportunities in Europe

“ Do the work your potential deserves”

(Mat Fraser - CrossFit Champion )

There is typically a performance gap between academy players at European professional clubs and players who have developed outside the system or in other countries such as North America. Many young players in Europe have trials or travel over to Europe to train at professional clubs but why do the majority return without any pathway into the professional game in Europe?

During my Masters Degree studies in Performance Coaching at the University of Sterling and in conversations with academy coaching staff during study visits to Wolves (England), RCD Espanyol & Sevilla FC (Spain), FC Porto (Portugal) and Chievo Verona (Italy) I have studied this subject in depth.

Why did players like Theo Corbeanu (Wolves) and Keito Lipovschek (Fleetwood Town United - Dubai) who I have previously worked with excel in Europe? How did they attract the attention of professional clubs - even though they did not develop within highly structured and sophisticated professional academy structures and received less formal training than the 8,500 hours received by the players they were competing against?

It is my belief that it came down to the individual person. Both players in my opinion had the mindset to overcome the obstacles of growing up within a less structured playing environment in Canada. In their excellent book "Talent Development - a practitioner's guide" Dave Collins and Aine MacNamara outlined the inputs and outputs of a talent development pathway.

When I review the progress of Theo and Keito I would conclude that they both had to take ownership of their own environment as they were not part of a professional club academy system - in their foundation or early youth development phases. Instead, they adopted a healthy lifestyle, growth mindset and created their own development environment where they devoted long hours improving their performance levels at an individual level. Personal motivation, persistence and hard-work were at the foundation of all this work.

So, how can you as a young player give yourself the best opportunity to achieve this level of success by closing the performance gap and succeed in Europe? My recommendation is to follow this proven system of individual development that I have developed, refined and practiced for over 20 + years.

It is based on a continuous cycle of assessment > learning (training) > performance and supported by the building blocks of positive mindset, consistent habits, persistence and the drive and determination to be the best version of yourself everyday.

The percentage of young players who go on to play professional football is very low . For example, 0.012 % of players at EPL academies in England graduate to play in the first team and EPL clubs can release as many as 95 % of their academy players. However, the game is full of examples where players overcame these odds and went on to enjoy very successful careers in the sport.

My message for any young player is simple. Give yourself every opportunity to be successful by doing the work and not making excuses. Be honest with yourself and believe in what is possible. If you don’t believe in yourself then no one else will.

The crossfit champion Mat Fraser had a great quote and I think about it and repeat it often:

“ Do the work your potential deserves”

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