You know that electric feeling when you see a player pull off a killer move, dance past defenders, or net a jaw-dropping goal? That’s not just luck or pure talent. That’s artistry in action—crafted through a mix of skills and attributes that transform a mere beginner player into a soccer sensation. We’re talking about soccer’s top superstars like Lionel messi, Christiano Ronaldo and now Kilian Mbappe who’ve made us scream, cheer, and sometimes even shed a tear, as they paint masterpieces on the soccer field.
What’s the secret sauce? Sure, stats like goals and assists make for nice Instagram captions, but they’re just the tip of the soccer iceberg. If you’re dreaming of stepping up your game, becoming a team MVP, or even taking on the world stage, you’ve got to dig deeper. And that’s where we come in!
In this must-read piece, we’re going to break down the Top 10 “Game-Changer” attributes that can propel anyone from Sunday league casual to bonafide soccer hero. We’re diving into everything from the nitty-gritty like discipline and tactical smarts, to the flair factors like passion and versatility. So stick around to learn more
Alright! Let’s dive in.
Discipline on the soccer field pertains to making players obey the soccer rules of the game to play the game fairly. You see, if there are rules, there surely are ways to punish the players who violet them. Sanctions may range from yellow cards, red cards, and even suspensions.
Indeed, player discipline is arguably the most important attribute a top soccer player needs to excel in the game. Like every other area in life, soccer also requires discipline, which shows that you have respect for the game.
It is often said that if you cannot respect the game, then you shouldn’t be playing it. So, when a player incorporates discipline into his game and plays amazingly, that is the actual test. Everyone can play dirty and get away with it, but playing within the game’s laws is the real test of nerves.
Regardless of individuality, discipline is an attribute that has delivered title-winning teams over the years. Furthermore, one of the greatest coaches of all time, Sir Alex Ferguson, has even gone on and stressed the importance of discipline so much that he says:
“You don’t have to dish out a punishment very often before everyone gets the message. I place discipline above all else, and it might have cost us several titles. But if I had to repeat things, I’d do it precisely the same because discipline has to come before anything else.”
This quote shows us that even the game’s best names weren’t ready to compromise on something as simple as discipline. Nowadays, player discipline is a rare thing to find. That might be because the game has evolved to become more aggressive than before, and so, players have the burning desire to win. But not without obeying the rules of the game. Above all, discipline is still an essential aspect of the game.
“I eat football; I sleep football. I breathe football. I am not mad; I am just passionate.”
When one of the greatest strikers ever to grace the game has said this, who are we to judge? Passion is what makes us love the game. Speaking from a fan’s perspective, passion for the team and the players is what soccer truly is.
Without it, less or no purpose remains regarding the game, which is why it needs to be oozing out of the player if he ever wishes to make it big in the world of football. In other words, passion for the game fuels players’ love and commitment to self-improvement, and here is why.
The very passionate players dedicate time outside of team practice to individual workouts and skill training. With the likes of Christiano Ronaldo’s personal practice sessions, we have seen that he stays in shape, and stay ready for games. CR7, as he is popularly called, has a ridiculous work ethic and seemingly never-ending effort to improve on his game.
He strives for success and hunger to win, which has earned him five ballon d’Or this far and other multiple trophies to show for. Thus, the reason why he is one of the best players in the world. Second to Lionel Messi, in my opinion. Being passionate about the game reflects your hunger and desire to become the best there is.
Many choose to settle for mediocrity, but only the most passionate players make it in the biggest stages. Many players in the past couldn’t make it to more enormous heights just because they weren’t dynamic enough. They were missing that hunger and desire that could’ve propelled them to the top.
What decision-making here means is deciding what to do when you have the ball and the times when you don’t. Being decisive in football is a must because you don’t get any second chances in the game.
It’s all about making your mind up in that split second. That’s all it takes. And that one moment ends up making or breaking the player’s career. Soccer in today’s day requires you to think a few moves ahead, much like chess. Not only that, you need to plan your activities, know what your opponent might do, and feel of a counter-move if your opponent traps you. It all comes down to good decision-making ability.
The infamous duo of Xavi and Iniesta, though they undoubtedly were two technically gifted players, their decision-making was on another level. They knew when to play a line-breaking pass and when to play it safe.
To put it differently but in the same context, Cristiano Ronaldo changed how he approached the game. In the early years of this career, his playing style was heavily dependent on pace and flair; as the years rolled by, he brought changes into it and integrated technique and accuracy instead of the former.
The result? Immeasurable success. Know that to be successful in today’s game, high footballing IQ and immaculate decision-making are pivotal.
If you think football is played for yourself, then it’s time to get rid of this narrative from your head. We might be talking about an individual soccer player’s qualities here, but no single player is more significant than the team. It doesn’t matter if the player has the qualities of Maradona, Pele, Messi, and Ronaldo combined!
“No one individual is bigger than this club (Liverpool) there never was, and there never will be” –Kenny Dalglish.
King Kenny’s words here basically prove that every great player in the game’s history has put the team first. That being the only reason they managed to rack up so much individual success on their CV. In addition to that Great players, become closely knit to the team once they play for the club.
No player has ever been successful in their career if they’ve gone on for individual glory. It might look good in the shorter run, but there’s no fun in winning alone. Isn’t it so?
Like every other thing in life, the game demands focus greater than ever. A single lapse of concentration is going to mess everything up for you.
Having your eyes and ears peeled at all times is now what the game demands. A slight lapse of concentration and your team will suffer because of it. Managers of today stress on focus quite a lot. Another critical point is that sharpness and presence of mind are two qualities every player needs to excel in soccer. The sharper you are, the better you can read the game and your opponents.
A focused mindset would help you see the entire 90 minutes even if you did not have a great game. However, tiring out is normal; it happens to every player, but losing focus is deemed unacceptable in modern soccer. You lose your focus and sharpness for one game, and bang!
After that, it will take several games for your focus to return. You’ll be short on confidence too, and that will prevent you from experimenting during the game. See how the entire chain is linked? One lapse of focus and your whole morale is going to come down like pieces of Jenga.
Game Safety and Fair Play
One of the demands of the game is to play safely and play fair. Resorting to dirty tactics will only bring you momentary gains, whereas playing a fair game free of diving, cheating, and foul play is your duty as a player.
Continuing from focus, the game of today demands you to be error-free. In today’s time, with the use of Video Assistant Referees (VAR) and multiple replays, you need to play with absolute caution.
There’s a reason FIFA has an entire award made just for playing fair. It is known as FIFA.
Fair Play Award. Just consider yourself to have a track record like Ryan Giggs, which is, in all honesty, a fantastic record for playing fair. The Welshman holds a history of not having a single red card in his entire playing career of 24 years! How impressive is that!
Nonetheless, respecting the game is as important as playing it. The world’s most significant players do not resort to dirty tactics or unfair means, precisely how the beautiful game needs to be played. If you call it beautiful, then make sure you keep it that way. However, any unfair tactics are immediately caught in video replays, and the officials punish the offender hence, why there is an even greater need to keep soccer clean as ever.
Mental Capacity to Take Losses/Composure
Mental strength in football is as important as anything. It allows you to overcome the hardest of losses, dust yourself and get back up.
In life, there comes an important lesson: you can’t win everything. Soccer applies a similar rule. No player is perfect, and no team is excellent either. From day one, players take losses right on their chest. Because it is something that they will be facing throughout their career time and time again, but it’s the mental strength that causes them to rise again. If you don’t have the mental capacity to bear a loss, then I’m afraid soccer is just not for you.
Many players have thrown their careers out the window just because they couldn’t take a loss. An example here could be Loris Karius, the goalkeeper for Liverpool in the 2018 Champions League Final.
As everybody remembers it, his performance in that game was abysmal as he gifted the game to Real Madrid by giving away two sloppy goals. After that game, he had a tearful post-match interview, and he was sold by Liverpool soon after. That’s where a player’s mental strength comes when they learn to bounce back from such setbacks. There are examples of countless players like this.
Soccer might be a culmination of individual performances. Still, a player who stands out in their leadership skills is worthy of extra praise from the manager, fans, and critics. Talking in the context of captaincy, yes, the team’s best player is usually given the captain’s armband.
But leadership doesn’t just come down to that. Even though Roy Keane led Manchester United from the front at the millennium turn to every trophy, including 4 League trophies and a treble in 1999, it wasn’t just him alone. There were players like Gary Neville, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, and Eric Cantona who were voices of leadership backing Keane up. An effective leader in the squad helps other players to improve and become better. A leader helps to motivate and inspire the team towards glory by keeping the players together and leading by example.
Consequently, some legendary captains football has seen apart from Keane include Franz Beckenbauer, Johan Cruyff, Paolo Maldini, and many others. It’s not that they deserved the armband. Instead, they were tailor-made to wear it. Players like these know what it means to lead the lads from the front. They see the club’s pride, and they wouldn’t do anything that would tarnish that reputation. That’s what a good captain brings to the table.
Knowing strategies and tactics is an essential aspect of soccer. Understanding it as a player counts for a lot since you need to play according to the manager’s tactics and cancel out the opposition’s tactics.
That brings us to the attribute of tactical knowledge. To become one of the greats, you need to think like a great. A great football player is incredible at reading and dictating the game. Of course, countless formations and tactics are played, and the best players know what their roles are in every kind of soccer formation. It all comes down to their tactical knowledge and know-how of the game.
Ultimately, a great player will never complain whenever he’s played in different formations, nor will he shy off from playing in other tactical formations. He will adapt according to what the manager wants, and he will mold himself according to the tactics given.
And that molding is done seamlessly. Mainly because of the high footballing IQ, which the player himself manages to demonstrate on the pitch.
Finally, we arrive at versatility. An attribute often ruled out by many but which is equally essential to be a footballing great. It simply means the ability of a player to play in multiple positions.
This attribute is usually found in senior players when they have developed their football knowledge to a reasonable extent. After playing in several areas over the pitch in several games, they rightfully become the jack of all trades.
For instance, some examples of such players include Ashley Young, who started his career on the left-wing at Aston Villa and continued in this position at Manchester United. Still, in the later years of his United career, he switched between right-back, left-back, and often as a wing-back.
Inter Milan legend Javier Zanetti is regarded as a great utility player, one of his best qualities apart from his longevity. The man who tops the lot is undoubtedly James Milner. He has played everywhere on the pitch except for goalkeeper and center-back, and that is neatly impressive.
A great football player culminated in the qualities mentioned above, but they certainly aren’t limited to these only. It is truly up to the player how far they would like to go in their career.
Because in all honesty, the only barrier that stops you from growing in life is yourself. So no reason a player can’t become as great as they would like. Putting in hours of work is what counts because greatness doesn’t come overnight. It requires blood, sweat, and tears. And if you’re up for it, then get ready to hit the road to greatness!
Alright, we’ve kicked around the top attributes you need to go from zero to hero on the soccer field. From discipline and tactical smarts to passion and versatility, these aren’t just buzzwords; they’re your blueprint for soccer greatness! Remember, even the legends had to start somewhere, and now you’ve got the insider tips to make your soccer dreams a reality.
Looking to gear up for your journey to soccer stardom? Don’t miss out on the essentials! Check out our recommended soccer gear, training tools to make sure you’re fully equipped to take your game to the next level.