How to Become a Professional Soccer Player in 2024

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Written by Daniel Pena, Bachelors in Kinesiology and footballer: Learn More

Do you want to learn how to become a professional soccer player? Following your dreams to play soccer at the professional level can be one of the most fulfilling things you can do, however it is a long, difficult journey, with no guarantee of success.

Millions of players around the world play the beautiful game and many of them are also trying to get into professional soccer teams, making soccer one of the most competitive sports of them all. The unfortunate truth is that the chances of going pro in any sport are very low, however if you follow the tips on this list you can increase your chances of making this dream a reality.

I have not played soccer professionally and the highest levels I have played on the U.S soccer pyramid are UPSL and College Club Soccer, however throughout my career, as well as my academic career, I have gathered a lot of valuable information that has helped me improve faster than ever. I now want to share this valuable information to help players learn what to train and what not to focus on as an aspiring soccer player.

how to become a professional footballer

Develop a Real Passion and Set Clear Goals

The first thing, and arguably the most important part of trying to become a professional soccer player, is to develop a real passion for the game and set very clear goals. It is also very important to ask yourself if you are in it for the right reasons?

This means do you want to achieve this dream because you love it or do you just want the lifestyle that comes with being a professional? By asking these questions, you will also identify your “why” which is “why do you want to achieve your dream of playing professional soccer?”

It could be because of your love for the game, it could be because you want to do it for yourself and your family, it could be to prove the doubters wrong, a combination of any of these, or something else. Whatever this “why” is, you have to use it daily to help you stay focused and stay motivated in achieving your goals.

Treat this like a job, not a hobby

If you want to increase your chances to play pro soccer then it is also very important to mention that playing soccer professionally is a job, not a hobby, so treat it like a job. This means you have to carry yourself like a true professional on and off the field from the minute you wake up to the minute you fall asleep and even if you are not a professional yet.

If you are an amateur or youth soccer player looking to play at the next level, then you should already be living like a professional and taking care of every aspect of your life day in and day out. Watch this video to get a better understanding of what the difference between a job and a hobby are.

Also as you work to get this job it is very important to have money, and know how to make money, in the first place to afford food, transportation, and tryouts.

how to become a professional footballer

Image by Maxim Hopman

Learn the Truth About the Soccer Industry

The following videos are some of the best videos to learn more about the truth of the soccer industry. Some of the key points to understand is that soccer is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, entertainment industry in the world and there is a lot of money involved with this industry.

This means there will be politics, there will be favoritism, it may feel unfair at times, and you also have to understand that it is a game of opinions. Focus on what you can control and don’t focus on the opinions of others.

The point is to keep going, no matter what opinions are thrown your way and to learn from the opinions of people that matter, such as coaches, and to disregard opinions that don’t matter, such as from people simply trying to make you feel down.

Understand the Game

If you want to reach a high level, you have to understand the game, so this means taking time to learn the following things:

The following tips are things you can start doing today to improve your knowledge and understanding of the game

  • Train with a team consistently
    • Join the best local team or academy in your area.
    • Every season try to get into a better team
  • Play a lot of small sided games and variations of the game
  • Record your soccer games with a camera
    • Analyze what you do well and what you need to work on
  • Learn from pro teams and players
  • Talk with other players, coaches, mentors, and share experiences.
  • Check out all of the videos that I have uploaded to this Youtube Playlist.

how to become a professional footballer

Image by Tapan Kumar Choudhury

Develop your Natural Talent

Becoming a professional soccer player is one of hardest things in the world due to all of the competition and you must develop enough talent to get noticed by a professional club or scout because just working hard is not enough to get you this dream job sought after by millions of players, like it is with other professions.

For example, people who want to become doctors, lawyers, or accountants will more than likely be able to reach their goals by working hard, studying, memorizing concepts, passing exams, paying fees, even retaking exams, repaying fees, and all that stuff. Even if these people are not really that talented, they can gain all the skills needed for their aspiring job through years, even decades, of hard work and training, or in this case studying.

However, in professional soccer and all pro sports in general, just because you work hard and believe you deserve to make it doesn’t really mean anything because the only way you will get signed is if you are talented enough to play at that level and a team is interested in your services. If professional soccer teams signed the players that work the hardest, then there would be a lot more professional soccer players, but ultimately they are looking for talent, not just a high work ethic.

Hard Work Vs Talent

Getting signed by a pro team requires having a special talent that separates you from other players and this type of talent is developed at different rates for different players, which is why you need to train smarter, not just harder. Talent is ultimately a combination of your athleticism, understanding of the game, soccer specific skills, and how well you are able to perform during high pressure situations.

A lot of people say that hard work is more important than talent, but the truth is talent is more important and training hard is the minimum that every player should be doing. Think about it, everyone and anyone can train hard, but not everyone develops enough talent to go pro. Why is that?

As an aspiring player, you have to find out what is it that separates you from other players. Soccer is about finding your talent, your unique set of traits and skills based on your physical and mental attributes, and fostering that talent. For example, Messi is known for his dribbling, Haaland is known for his finishing, Xavi is known for his vision, Kante is known for his work rate, and so on.

How to Train to Develop Natural Talent

Becoming a better player and increasing your chances of playing pro soccer is relatively simple, but that does not mean it will be easy. To learn about how to develop your talent then check out this blog on How to REALLY get better as a soccer player.

In summary, to become a better soccer player you have to do and train the right things on and off the field, every single day. This is a list of the most important things to focus on improving if you want to increase your chances of playing professional soccer.

how to become a professional footballer

Image by Moosa Moseneke

Create Your Own Opportunities

Becoming a professional player requires making sacrifices and this is something every player knows they have to do. This means sacrificing activities and investments that are not going to get you closer to your goal and instead focus on the things that will get you closer to your dreams.

Part of making sacrifices means going out of your comfort zone to make a name for yourself and make your own opportunities because the perfect opportunity does not exist. If you are not getting any opportunities to become a professional player then go out there and find them or create them yourself.

The key thing is to get as much exposure, open up as many opportunities as possible, and be able to learn from your experiences. Aspiring players have to realize that in football, and in life in general, experience is the best teacher and that is what will teach you the most.

Network

Sometimes making it as a professional soccer player is not only about how good you are as a player because it is also about who you know. The more people you know, the more chances you have of finding a team if you make connections with the right people.

These are some of the best ways to network as a footballer:

  • Join a club or academy that trains consistently
  • Attend combines, tryouts, training camps, etc.
  • Play in pick-up games
  • Join LinkedIn or similar apps to find more people
  • Join a private football community of like-minded individuals who have the same goals and aspirations

how to become a professional footballer

Image by Tim Bechervaise

Pathways for How to Become a Professional Soccer Player

As an aspiring player, there are multiple pathways to take that can help you get closer to your goal of playing professionally. These pathways are going to depend on various factors such as your location, your age, playing experience, and more.

Youth Academies:

Many professional clubs around the world have soccer academies for young players where they scout and develop the best young talent around. Joining one of these reputable soccer academies can provide excellent coaching and a lot of them have a direct route to professional contracts.

For example, in America if you join an MLS soccer academy and you are talented enough you may be invited to train with the club’s professional first team and eventually they may offer a contract. Even if you don’t get a professional contract as an academy player, the experience of being in an academy can set you up for a successful college soccer career, which can lead to other opportunities in the future.

College Soccer:

In the United States, if you play college soccer that can serve as a stepping stone to the professional ranks. Playing for a college soccer team can help you gain exposure and improve your skills, leading to opportunities in Major League Soccer (MLS) or other leagues.

Although college soccer may be a great way to reach the professional level in the United States, that is not the case in most other countries who don’t value college soccer, or don’t have a college soccer system in the first place. It is important to note that to make it as a professional player straight out of college you have to be in the top 1% of college soccer players.

Lower-League Clubs:

Sometimes, starting at a lower-league club can be a more realistic option. Playing regularly and standing out in lower leagues can attract the attention of scouts from higher-level teams.

The United States does not have promotion and relegation, but moving to another country that does have a promotion and relegation system can allow players to play on lower-level professional teams and get the opportunity to be promoted to the next level, or tier of soccer.

Overseas Opportunities:

As mentioned previously, consider exploring opportunities in countries with strong soccer traditions if you’re not getting the attention you deserve in your home country. Some players have found success by playing abroad and sometimes the best thing you can do is move to a country where soccer, or football is the number one sport.

Although soccer is on the rise in America it is still not the number one sport, but day by day it increases in popularity.

Combines, showcases, summer camps, and developmental programs:

Attending combines, showcases, summer camps, and developmental programs can put you in front of scouts and coaches actively looking for talent. Make the most of these opportunities to demonstrate your skills and learn from each experience. Watch this video to learn more about what goals you should have when attending a combine.

Highlight Videos and CVs

Highlight videos give scouts a glimpse of your playing style, technique, and ability to perform under pressure. Create a short five minute video that shows your best skills, plays, and crucial contributions.

Also, make sure you list data in your video about you, such as your name, position, date of birth, where you currently play, preferred foot, etc. Along with highlight videos, a football CV, which is basically a resume for soccer players, is essential for attracting recruiters.

Include personal information, contact details, physical attributes, position played, playing experience, and achievements in the world of soccer. Also, add reference letters from coaches and mentors who vouch for your skills and dedication.

Anytime you reach out to clubs, via email or similar method, make sure to include your highlight video and CV so that coaches and scouts have a glimpse of who you are as a player. A lot of the time coaches will not even open or look at an email if there is no CV or highlight video.

This is why if you don’t have one already, make sure to grab a soccer camera to create highlight videos and analyze your own game footage.

how to become a professional footballer

Image by Norbert Braun

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best soccer training program?

The best online soccer training program and soccer app is Football Entangled. There is no other program like Football Entangled on the market and this community, much more than just an app, will help you get closer to making your dreams a reality.

Is it tough to make it in pro soccer?

Absolutely. Soccer is the most popular and competitive sport in the world that requires skill, fitness, mental toughness, and a strategic understanding of the game. Only about 1% of all players make it to the professional game.

How to go pro without college?

To go pro without college join local leagues or academies. You may have to move countries to create more opportunities for yourself if you really want them. College soccer is only a thing in the United States and most other countries don’t have, or don’t really care, about college soccer because they have a lot more professional clubs.

How much do professional soccer players make? 

How much money professional soccer players vary on a lot of things such as the country they play in, what level, league, playing experience, and other factors. Premier league players are among the highest paid athletes in all of sports, but this makes up only about %0.1 of all players.

Check out this video to learn more about the financial realities of pro soccer. 

Conclusion

In conclusion, in this blog we covered everything you need to know about becoming a professional soccer player. The road to professional soccer is not easy and it is not guaranteed, but if you follow the tips on this list you may be able to increase your chances of making this dream come true. Also make sure to read all of the attached blog and do not forget to join Football Entangled, the best soccer training app on the market.

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