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The Uniqueness of Every Player’s Journey to the Top

Updated: May 11

How Desire and Commitment Can Lead to Success, No Matter What Pathway You Take



Dan Carroll has seen first-hand all twists and turns that a soccer player’s journey to a professional contract can take. As a semi pro player-turned Lead Youth Development Phase Coach at AFC Bournemouth, Carroll knows all the different ways a youth prospect can become a professional.

“Signing a professional contract is every youth soccer player’s dream,” Carroll commented. “But actually earning one is much more challenging.”

Every month, International Development Academy invites professionals from the football industry to discuss their experiences in the game, and the various pathways to success. Carroll discussed his own journey from player to coach, his experience working with youth players who went on to become professionals, and how they each followed their own pathway to their first contract. Still, despite their own unique journeys, they all had one thing in common: desire.

“That’s the single strongest link across successful players I’ve worked with,” he said. “The demand and commitment to always wanting more. That’s what it takes to be a professional.”

He highlighted professional footballer, Michail Antonio, as an example. As a youth prospect, he and his family initially turned down a tryout with Tottenham Hotspur. To some, that would seem insane. For him, it meant not getting lost in the shuffle, at a bigger professional club.

Instead, he committed himself to his development, trained with his local junior squad, and waited for the right professional opportunity to present itself (it did). Now he’s doing things like this for Premier League mainstays West Ham United on one of soccer’s biggest stages.

Because he had the desire to go that far.

Now, his path isn’t easy to follow. However, Carroll stressed that what set Antonio, and every youth player who went on to sign a professional contract, apart is that they always stayed focused and maintained the right mindset, no matter where their journeys took them.

“They wanted to grow, they aimed high, and they remained resilient,” he said. “Earning a professional contract is a process, and they understood that and worked through it.”

International Development Academy works with elite youth soccer players from around the world to kickstart that process, including recruiting and placement assistance. To develop your game and learn more, contact us now.


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