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Snakes and Ladders - Ali's Words

I am always drawn back to the image of snakes and ladders. We were close to signing a talented goalkeeper, and I shared the same wisdom with him; 'your career in football is a game of snakes and ladders. A few right steps and you find yourself on the top. One misstep and you will find yourself at the start.'

Obviously, a 19-year-old player is aiming to go to the top, and his/her motivation and talent are at their peak too, but which box you stand at depends a lot on who is giving you advice and why. A player must understand the business of football to have a clear view of the intentions of every advisor. A mindful coach and team will pick ladders you can hike on and grow with, whether they are small games in small countries or big games, as long as you are on the path to the final goal. However, there is no dearth of agents that will secure a fee and let you hop over the slippery slopes alone. Football, like life, does not come with a guarantee of success. I have seen dedicated players slide from 99 to 1 because of small, avoidable issues like injuries, sleep, diet, etc. Needless to say, there have been dozens and dozens who slipped long before they reached high because of bad guidance and unsustainable habits.

Make sure you ask the right questions, make sound decisions and seek referrals before you hand over the reins of your future because it only takes one wrong move.

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