Lot of Nigerian youths wish and aspire to become professional football players and play in the best football clubs abroad and in Europe.
Are you one of them?
Do you want to become as successful as many great international footballers in the world?
If YES, then this article is only what you need to read today.
The Nigerian football industry has witnessed a tremendous improvement in past years as there are now many international football players and academies present in the country.
Nigerians love the sport and they always show this via their extreme passion and participation both at the national and international levels.
In Nigeria, you’ll get to see fans supporting both top local and international football clubs like Enyimba, Kano Pillars, Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal, Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, Liverpool.
Although Nigeria has produced professional footballers who have gone to represent the country in international games and competitions, it is still difficult to chase a professional career in football as a youth/teenager.
There are many factors that seem to hinder upcoming footballers in Nigeria to progress to the next level.
That’s why today, I’m willing to show you the right steps to follow this year in pursuing and achieving your football goal/career.
As an aspiring footballer in Nigeria, you won’t be lost on how to go about putting your talents and skills to great use because you’ll get complete guidance and advice on how to go about your profession as a footballer.
At the end of this post, you will be fully energized to pursue your passion of becoming a professional footballer.
So, ensure to take your time and read to the end to achieve your footballing dream.
Who’s a Footballer?
A football player or footballer is a sports person who plays one of the different football.
The main types of football are association football, American football, Canadian football, Australian rules football, Gaelic football, rugby league and rugby union.
Footballers begin as amateurs and the best players progress to become professional players.
Normally they start at a youth team (any local team) and from there, based on skill and talent, scouts offer contracts.
Once signed, some learn to play better football and a few advances to the senior or professional teams.
A successful footballer is often respected and well-regarded by their countrymen and fans for years.
Nigeria National Football Team Squad
- Daniel Akpeyi
- Dele Alampasu
- Francis Uzoho
- Ikechukwu Ezenwa
- John Noble
- Josh Oluwayemi
- Maduka Okoye
- Matthew Yakubu
- Stanley Nwabali
- Theophilus Afelokhai
- Abdullahi Shehu
- Adekunle Adeleke
- Adeleye Olamilekan
- Anthony Izuchukwu
- Brian Idowu
- Chidozie Awaziem
- Emmanuel Temitope Olusesi
- Enyinnaya Kazie
- Ikouwem Udo
- Imo Obot
- Kenneth Omeruo
- Kevin Akpoguma
- Leon Balogun
- Ndifreke Effiong
- Olisa Ndah
- Oriyomi Lawal
- Semi Ajayi
- Tebo Degaulle
- Temitayo Olufisayo Olaoluwa Aina
- Tyronne Ebuehi
- Valentine Ozornwafor
- William Troost-Ekong (C)
- Zaidu Sanusi
- Zulkifilu Rabiu
- Abraham Marcus
- Alex Iwobi
- Anderson Esiti
- Anthony Msonter Shimaga
- Charles Atshimene
- Cyriel Dessers
- Frank Ogochukwu Onyeka
- Jamilu Collins
- Joe Aribo
- Joel Obi
- John Ogu
- Mikel Agu
- Ogenyi Onazi
- Oghenekaro Etebo
- Onyinye Wilfred Ndidi
- Ramon Azeez
- Samson Tijani
- Samuel Chukwueze
- Terem Moffi
- Uche Onwuansanya
- Vincent Onovo
- Viv Solomon-Otabor
- Abdulmutalif Sanusi
- Ahmed Musa
- Anayo Iwuala
- Auwalu Ali Malam
- Chidera Ejuke
- Chinonso Eziekwe
- David Okereke
- Dennis Bonaventure
- Ebere Paul Onuachu
- Emmanuel Nenrot
- Henry Onyekuru
- Ibrahim Olawoyin
- Isaac Success
- Josh Maja
- Jude Steven
- Kelechi Iheanacho
- Moses Daddy Simon
- Odion Ighalo
- Peter Oladeji Olayinka
- Samuel Kalu
- Seth Mayi
- Simeon Nwankwo
- Sunday Adetunji
- Sunusi Ibrahim
- Victor Osimhen
Despite the challenges, how does one become a successful professional footballer in Nigeria?
Steps to Becoming a Successful Nigerian Footballer Playing in the Best European Clubs Abroad
Here are the right steps to become a successful footballer in Nigeria and earn money:
1. Assess Your Football Talent
In becoming a professional footballer in Nigeria, the first major step you need to take is realizing your football talent and assessing yourself on the type of player you are or want to be and work hard on your strengths till, they become second nature.
Are you a defender or good in goalkeeping?
Are you a striker? What type of striker are you? False 9? Target Man? Etc.
You’ll need to also create a portfolio of your videos, playing skill readily available in any form to show to whoever may be interested in you.
2. Be Determined and Prepared
There is no successful footballer who became popular by chance.
The starting point to become a professional footballer in Nigeria is to have a firm determination about your vision.
Carry out your research and decide on what you are about doing because aside having the skill or talent to play football, there are other things you have to do to be famous.
Football is a profession that requires hard work, discipline, determination, patience, your mind and your body.
You may have the talent to play football, but you must decide about taking it as a profession.
You must rate yourself to know what your strengths and weaknesses are in football.
There will be challenges on your way up and you will give up too soon if you are not strongly determined from the start.
3. Be Passionate for the Game
If you want to become a footballer, you must devote yourself to the game.
The amount of love you have for football drives your passion.
Live football. Breathe football. Dream football.
Without passion, there will be little to no progress in your football career.
Passion can make you endure periods of intense challenges, as they will surely arise.
You must have genuine interest and be willing to learn and know more of this field.
Money, although important, shouldn’t come first in your quest in becoming a football player, if not you are most likely to lose track and may not achieve your goal of playing for any club of worth.
Be passionate about your hobby and stay focused.
Your passion and gifts can translate into something big i.e., something you do in your spare time can just be what people all around the world are looking for.
Avoid being distracted by events around you.
With enough flair and passion, you will live through challenging moments in your journey to football stardom.
4. Start Playing Football Early
Start playing football at a young age.
If you are opportune to know that you want to become a professional footballer at a tender age, I’ll advise you to train immediately.
Don’t worry so much about playing on a team early on.
Get your friends and parents to play football with you as much as possible from an early age.
You can later shift to playing in organized youth teams sometime between the ages of 5 and 14.
Starting off at a young age will set you at an advantage because you will have enough time to develop yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Let’s assume you began professional football training at 8, at age 20, you’d have had 12 solid years of coaching and mastership to become a trained professional footballer.
5. Develop Your Football Gift
Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the best footballers in the world, once said ‘Talent is not enough anymore’.
Even though you can play football and you know how to win games with your team, you still need to develop your football skills.
If you want to become a successful footballer, you must trade comfort for hard work, diligence, and dedication.
You need to go for your personal training and partake in your team training if you really want to become a professional footballer in Nigeria.
Continue to develop your strength and work on your weakness.
If football is what you truly love doing, then you shouldn’t feel tired of training and having fun while improving yourself.
Train every day to improve your physical and mental skills.
If you are good with only your right leg, see how you can start using your left leg, if you are good with both work on your stamina and learn how to make accurate passes and throw-ins.
Work on your dribbling skills on the field and in your mind.
Learn to catch a ball and keep the goal post if that is your desired position.
You can choose to train on your own or with friends.
You can also attain football training camps.
Attending football camps helps build your enthusiasm and awaken the spirit of competition.
Take part in organized football games early and often.
Try representing your town, school, office, or church at football tournaments.
6. Possess Some Basic Skills
Although practice makes perfect, you should have some basic skills, and add these to your practice.
Skills added with constant practice will most likely get you to your desired destination.
An example of this is seen in Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United of England and Lionel Messi of Paris Saint Germain of France.
7. Be Persistent on Becoming a Professional Footballer
Persistence in following your passion is very important.
All the football stars making impact across the world today all started from humble beginnings.
Perseverance and persistence brought them their current fame.
You need to continue to believe in yourself that you are the best and you need to never give up even when it looks like all hope is gone.
Resist any form of temptation that will make you go astray.
Resist any temptation that will make you think you have practiced enough because if you believe this, your relevance will start fading away.
Continue to aim high and try to play like your football mentors – those you look up to.
8. Make Good Plans
Pursuing your football career will require so much of your time in training and learning.
Before you start out your football career in Nigeria or even abroad, it is very essential that you have a plan on ground on how to achieve your goal.
This plan will serve as your guide as you move on, and when you go off balance.
In your plan, you must decide on the following questions:
- Do you want to start off your football career in Nigeria or Abroad?
- What football club would you love to play for?
- Where will you receive your football training sessions?
- How to get a trusted player agent(s) that will link you to football clubs and the club you want to play for?
- Where do you intend sourcing for funds for kits, academy charges and training sessions?
9. Always Stay Fit and Maintain Good Health
Football is a very physical sport that requires every part of your body and high energy consumption to remain on the field for 90 minutes plus extra time.
Most athletes get disqualified because they fail some medical tests.
Sometimes, it is not because they deliberately take harmful substances into their body, it may be because they were careless about what they eat.
So, a nutritious diet, rich in protein, vitamins, and carbohydrates, plus exercise is vital for you to stay in shape always.
The following tips will help:
- Damage to any of your organs may hinder how far you will go, so learn how to avoid injuries while playing.
- Do not allow depression to defeat you if things do not go as planned.
- Do not bottle up negative emotions within you.
- Do not feel bad when you lose a match.
- Exercise and fitness plan is also a must. You should have a customized fitness plan optimized to better your age and body size.
- Get enough sleep every night.
- If you suddenly lose a promising contract, do not sulk over it.
- Make sure your diet is balanced in carbohydrates, protein, and vitamins.
- Minimal intake of junk and sugary foods will help.
- Regular exercise, healthy feeding and abstinence from alcohol and drug will help maintain your health.
- Take enough rest after each match.
10. Attend Good Football Training Academy
Joining a football academy is a very great way of showing yourself to the world really quick.
It is highly recommended that you attend a football academy where your skills will be polished and put to good use, exposing you to the right audience.
Without exposure to the right audience, your dream of becoming a professional football player is likely to be achieved.
Football academies will help you get the qualifications needed to be a professional footballer, and one good thing is that you can sometimes join a football academy for free in Nigeria.
In Nigeria, there are various top football academies where you can register to train yourself to become a professional footballer.
These academies have links with clubs abroad and can offer you the chance to play for one or more of their sister clubs home or abroad.
Scouts of club footballs visit academies to watch upcoming talents and to catch them young.
So, buy their forms and make sure you meet up their qualifications and requirements.
You can read these qualifications on their websites or at the football academy office branches.
11. Join Good Local Football Team
Not everyone will have straight and easy access to a football academy.
If you cannot join an academy yet, you may join a grassroots football team to boost your skill.
The best team will help to promote you just like when you join an academy.
By joining a football club, you get to perfect your playing skills and get the attention of scouts, through playing with a team.
If your team isn’t as standard as it should be, you may switch to another team for you to have a better chance.
Loyalty is great, but personal development matters too.
Stay in a positive and growth-fueled environment that will enable you to succeed as a professional footballer.
In a football club:
- You will know the best position you fit in on the pitch
- You solidify your knowledge of how to dribble
- You learn to give accurate shots
- You become conversant with making passes
- You become tactful at manipulating the ball to score a goal
- You develop team spirit
- You become a more responsible player
- You’ll feed off the enthusiasm and competitiveness of other players
Finally, you may still consider joining an academy even after you join a team, especially if the academy is one that will give you more exposure.
12. Prepare for a Talent Scout
A talent scout can just appear anytime to assess your football team.
This calls for you to always be in your best behavior.
A scout’s assessment of your individual performance can land you in a bigger club.
A scout will observe your display of team spirit, your ability to play with focus and calmness under pressure, etc.
Clubs might hold trials or talent days.
They also rely on the network they have in place to spot the best players and refer outstanding players onwards.
- A scout will watch your entire attitude, not just your ball play i.e., you’ll be watched for character as much as talent.
- Involve yourself in all important tryouts.
- Prove that you can be calm and focused even under pressure.
- Remember to play your best at all times.
- Show your ambition and competitiveness, but don’t be mean.
- Show your team spirit by helping your teammates.
- You should also show that you can be calm and focused under pressure.
13. Go to Trial Camps Abroad
This idea will work for you if you have just graduated from a football school and are still within the age of 15 to 18.
You should start attending trial camps, especially the well-organized ones abroad.
If you’re able to get yourself into a trial camp, top scouts and agents will see you play and if your skills excite them, you could get admitted into one of the top flight youth teams.
What European clubs do if they find a good inexperienced player in Nigeria is they make an agreement saying that the boy will keep playing in Nigeria until he is 18.
As soon as he completes 18, he can join the European club.
14. Sign Up with an Intermediary (Licensed Players Agent)
This one applies to those who already play for a professional football club in the Nigerian league.
You just need to look for an Intermediary also known as Players Licensed Agent who will represent you and could help you get invitations for trial tests with clubs abroad.
Having an already professionally filmed and edited video clips of your best performances in the Nigerian league makes it even easier.
By so doing, agents can present your video clips to clubs and make them invite you for a trial test.
15. Networking with Other Footballers
As an aspiring footballer in Nigeria, do not underestimate what connections can do for you.
If you want to become a professional footballer in Nigeria and in Europe, it is important that you connect with right people (agents, upcoming or top footballers) who will introduce you to a good club.
Many of the players that you are playing with today will become popular and may get international contacts faster than you.
It is important for you to connect with them now by being their friends so that when they become known internationally, they can help you too.
If you have contacts or social media handles of top Nigerian footballers, you can contact them to help introduce you to their agents or even club scouts.
You might just be lucky and you will be sent for trial in any of the top clubs in Europe top football leagues.
16. Promote Yourself and Your Team
You can promote your team and yourself.
Even if you are talented and can dribble from one end of the football field to the other, you would still need to show yourself to the right audience by marketing your skills.
As an aspiring professional footballer, when you promote yourself or team, you are calling the attention of the world to yourself indirectly, and this is one way which scouts can spot you fast.
You can make use of your official social media handles which includes Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, TikTok, and others to showcase your skills and talents.
Some contents you can post include:
- Pictures of you and other players
- Results of matches your team is involved in
- Videos of you training hard
- Videos of your team playing or training
17. Land a Contract
If you put in a great effort at developing your football skill, you can get signed into a football contract for a professional career.
But you have to exercise the utmost care in accepting a contract. A bad club can dim your light.
It is recommended that before committing to a contract with any club, whether international or local, the services of a lawyer and/or a manager should be hired.
If you cannot employ the two, you can employ one and pay them based on commission bases.
That is; they get maybe 10% – 25% of contracts they can get for you.
The contract document should be read by both the player and the lawyer, with the lawyer interpreting any legal terms that may be contained within the contract, and explaining its implications if they are good or bad for business.
You really have to be very careful as some Nigerian players have found themselves under bondage which is hard to escape from, resulting in their failure to excel.
Read and understand the terms of engagement before accepting to join a professional football club.
18. Have Good Communication
Football is a team sport, and good communication is vital.
Prove at all times that you are good at communicating.
Use your manners, express yourself clearly, avoid unruly or angry behaviour on the field, and be a team-player.
A player who is too much of an individual player, or refuses to communicate properly, is a liability on a team and not likely to go far.
19. Have Patience
Accept that becoming a football professional is a gradual process.
You’ll continue to learn, build your technical skills, learn soccer knowledge, and contact other people.
Look for professional development programs and see how you can become a part of these.
Ask your coach or club mentors for advice on what’s available.
20. Regularly Assess Yourself as a Football Player
After you’ve played for a while at trainings or in your team or club, seriously look at your skills.
Find out what position your innate skills are best suited to.
When working this out, don’t just think about yourself.
Think about how your skills feed into your teamwork, and how your strengths fit into the game.
It’s important that you are exceptional at what you do because there is a lot of competition.
Seek your coach’s honest opinion about your strengths and your chances.
Learn from your coach’s suggestions about ways to improve or hone your natural talent.
Strive to be the best in your level. If you’re not, make an honest assessment about how you can improve your skills or if you need to shift to a unique position.
You should also be able to prove that you’re good in games.
Be consistently good and show that you can deliver every week, not just once in a while.
If you’re the outstanding player of the week every week, you’re on the right track.
21. Be Prepared to Travel Often
Football clubs and agents will expect you to travel often to meet their wants.
Be fully prepared for this, ensure to have your international passport, and other travel documents ready.
Before moving, consider how often you’ll be playing, if you speak the language of where you’ll be moving to, if the pay is adequate, if the club is challenging and has a good reputation, and if there is good medical treatment if you would become injured.
No time is too late to pursue your dream of becoming a professional Nigerian football player.
You just have to prepare to work hard and smart.
So, I advise you to read everything in this article again and digest it in your memory.
You can even save this page in your browser so that you can easily open it and read.
With the talent, right preparation, information, connection, training and football skills, you are bound to have a successful career as a football player in Nigeria.
Hope you enjoyed this article?
Please share with your friends and don’t fail to comment expressing your mind concerning this article.
I wish you success.