We move on to the ears and specifically the importance of listening and taking on advice in football...
“Communication on the pitch is vital, even if it’s just one or two words to your teammate…”
It is difficult to be able to listen to each other during games due to the noise sometimes. As well as that, when you’re tired in games, trying to get a full sentence out is sometimes difficult. Sometimes it can just be a scream of ‘left’, ‘right’, ‘I’m on’ or ‘man on’ – just these simple, simple words can mean an awful lot and help an awful lot. If you’re covering your mate, you just want to shout ‘left, left’ rather than a full-on sentence, which is impossible during a match anyway. Maybe when someone is down injured or there’s a substitution, you might be able to have a little bit of a conversation, but sometimes these messages can be so short. However, as a player, you know what they mean and something as simple as one or two words can mean an awful lot.
“It can be hard to hear what people are saying on the pitch…”
It is loud and sometimes you can’t hear what the manager is saying if you’re far away from him, but the noise doesn’t bother you so much because you’re zoned out and focused. You try to block out as much of the atmosphere as possible so you can concentrate on the job ahead. But that’s not to say fans can’t influence games or performances with the noise and atmospheres they create – they definitely can and do.
“You always need to be ready to listen in football…”
Taking on advice is key. When you’re younger – 16, 17 or 18 – you’re going through that stage of your career where you might listen to the wrong people and you might get led astray by friends who aren’t in a similar position to you, so you do have to make sacrifices and big decisions when you’re younger, and work out what path you want to take. Do you want to do all you can to become a professional footballer, or do you want a little bit of the lifestyle you can’t have if you want to be a top professional? You can’t be going out with your mates two or three times a week when you’re young and when you’re learning to become a top professional footballer.