Who wants to be a soccer scout? Raise your hands…

Ok, ok! So many raised hands… I suppose though, that everyone’s dream is to find the new Cristiano Ronaldo and the new Lionel Messi. But, hold on a bit and just do me the favor to sacrifice the next 2 minutes of your life by watching the following video. Are you ready for that? If not, then you can not be a scout as time dedication is an absolute prerequisite in order to be successful.

If yes, then enjoy:

So, have you noticed all the 21 changes during the video at first glance? If yes, you are hired! If not, don’t get disappointed. Most of the viewers wouldn’t notice even half of them. But the example above is perfect to show you the difference between just watching the ball in a football match comparing to watching it carefully (I would not even dare thinking of saying to analyse a match). Many fans think that because they watch many football matches every week, they are privileged and they have superior knowledge of the sport.

It is different, though, to watch a match and most of the times to just follow the ball, and it is a totally different sport when you watch the tactical schemes, the  “on and off the ball movements”, the counterplays, the patterns, the “triggers”, how the teams execute their plan and how the opponent try to anticipate it, what I call the “football-chess match”.

It is easy to see the the mistake but the point is to be able to explain why did it happen, it is easy to praise the goalscorer but the point is to be able to explain the whole offensive transition phase that led to the goal. As the great Ruud Gullit said “watching as a manager, there will be few minutes into the match that you’ ve harldy looked at the ball”. Imagine if an all time classic player and manager say this, how much “training” needs a spectator’s vision to change the way to watch a match. If you are ready to sing “it’s the end of the football-watching world as we know it” then you can proceed…

Do you like innovation to be brought into your life? Are you the one who is likely to be the guy who will clap an unknown singer or a band because you “smell” their future success even if noone else is clapping around or you are the one who is jumping like a madman in a concert just because the guys next to you are doing the same (even if you don’t like the song actually)

To be more explanative I’m posting these two videos of the same beloved band “PULP”, performing the same song in the same place and what only differs is that the first video is dated back on 1994 while the second one is 17 years later when everyone knew who “PULP” were, and they were fully established into the music universe. There’s no need to watch the full videos (unless you are a huge PULP fan of course), just watching few seconds of them will make you understand about what I’m talking about:

It is extraordinary how the audience reacted during the first rehearsal (about total silence) and how a similar audience “was exploding” for the same performer and the same song some years later. The song, the singer, the band, the place didn’t change, ok, there may have been improvements, but the idea is that when something gets into our life most of the time we are hesitating – not to say we tend to be negative. Scouting needs open-minded people. Scouting needs people with critical mind of course but in any way ready to implement and use innovation to their job and to welcome and examine everything and everyone that seems to be “out of the box” . If Barca’s scouting team were staying to stereotypes then Leo Messi may would have been lifting trophies to another city for years so far.

If you are not on the position to be open to innovation and creativity, sorry you are not for the job, because if everyone was like that, then we would still use WM tactic in football.

It seems you are tough and still insist,huh? Are you quick and efficient? Scouting is not olnly defining who is a good player but also many times to find him early in his youth, or to find him before renewing a contract or even after a problematic season (which may happened coincidentally or because of situations that affected his performance which you believe they can be reversible) or to find quickly a player who is not fitting well to his current team but you see that he would fit perfectly to yours. To do such things you have to be quick and efficient in order to get something good in a reasonable price. As an example, a president of a famous Greek club in the past is supposed to said when his scouting department offered him Luka Modric (even at his primary youth) but at a cost of 10-12m euros : “I don’t need you, I can do scouting my self this way, buying players of 10-12m euros at 17 years old”. Maybe he was a bit exaggerated but imagine that even if you work for Real Madrid which can buy for sure a 17-year old for 12m euros, their primary target is to find him either younger either more affordable, that’s why scouting exists primarily.

Last but not least, if you plan to be rich in terms of money in your life maybe you should follow something else. Scouting will make you for sure rich in terms of emotions, experience, knowledge, maybe you ‘ll earn a good living if you are also a bit lucky, but you will never become rich probably. Lots of commitment, unlimited hours of dedication, availability 24/7 most of the times –I know managers who can ask for a video at 3 o’ clock in the morning and that’s also a great sign that you are not the only one on the ship who work unstoppably, the captain himself does the same so that gives you satisfaction to work even harder, under harsh circumstances-.

If you are one of the heros who came up to this point and read the previous one thousand words and moreover you passed the question-tests, then for sure you have passion for football and scouting. Scouting departments will always be looking for well-educated, open-minded and passionate people to recruit. The way is not easy but :

“It is not about the destination, it is about the journey itself”…

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Kostas Xydias is an MBA-PMP graduate, with a thesis in Statistics, having studied also Engineering, Sports Journalism and Soccer Analytics. He is collaborating with Galatasaray SK Technical Scouting Department since 2012.

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