Football player, professional football player
Footballers play for their club in league and cup competitions, and some represent their country at international level.
Salary range: Variable
How to become a footballer
You could get into this job through:
- an apprenticeship
- working your way up
- being spotted by a scout
You may be able to start by doing an advanced apprenticeship in sporting excellence (AASE). You’ll need the support of your club to do this.
Once you’ve completed your apprenticeship, your club will decide whether to offer you a professional contract.
Apprenticeship training providers set their own entry requirements.
You may be able to join a club’s academy or centre of excellence development programme, if you can show you have the potential to play at a high level.
Academies hold trials during the year and have scouts watching male and female players of all ages. Programmes usually operate from under 10s to under 16s level.
If an academy takes you on, they’ll ask you and your parents or guardians to sign forms, which may be renewed every 1 to 2 years. At age 16, the club will decide whether to put you on its youth training scheme. You’ll be expected to continue with your education at the same.
You can be offered a professional contract from age 17. If the contract ends, you’ll be released into a central pool of players for other clubs to offer you a trial. Some of these clubs may be at a lower level than the one you’ve been with.
England youth, men’s and women’s coaches have close links with club development programmes. They constantly watch players of all ages to identify the ones they think have the potential to go on and play for England at senior level.
Contact your local county football association for details of how to get involved in football, and for clubs and development programmes in your area.
You may be spotted by a club’s scouts and offered a trial, if you’re playing at non-league or semi-professional level. You’ll need exceptional talent to join a club in this way.
As well as technical skills, scouts will be looking for the right attitude, tactical knowledge and willingness to work hard for your team-mates.
Professional and industry bodies
You can join the Professional Footballers’ Association for personal development and support, both during and after your playing career.
What it takes
Skills and knowledge
- to be thorough and pay attention to detail
- the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
- patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
- ambition and a desire to succeed
- persistence and determination
- excellent verbal communication skills
- physical fitness and endurance
- leadership skills
- to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
Restrictions and requirements
You must live within 60 minutes travelling distance of a club to join its youth development programme, if you’re under 12. If you’re under 16, this rises to 90 minutes. There is no time restriction for under 17s and older.
What you’ll do
Your day-to-day duties may include:
- practising training drills like passing, shooting, ball control and free kicks
- analysing areas for skills improvement with playing coaches
- working on your strength and conditioning in the gym
- watching videos of opponents’ matches
- discussing team tactics for the next game with the coaches and manager
- playing competitive matches
- working with physiotherapists to treat any injuries
- taking part in promotional and media activities for your club
You could work on a sports field or at a sports arena.
Your working environment may be outdoors in all weathers, physically demanding and you may spend nights away from home.
You may need to wear a team strip.
Career path and progression
You could progress by transferring to a club higher up in the football leagues.
You could move into related careers like coaching, fitness instruction, refereeing, management, sports development, physiotherapy or journalism.