Soccer, either on an amateur or professional level, is an internationally acclaimed sport. In what officially started as players representing their national teams, the sport metamorphosed into club teams that brought together professional players from different nationalities.
Many soccer players have had dreams of moving overseas to play soccer professionally. Each of them has their unique reasons why they believe they’ll have better opportunities as soccer players overseas.
To be fair, Europe seems to be the most successful continent when it comes to professional soccer. Although many will argue that raw talent and skills are found in South America, we cannot deny Europe its glory of having the most-watched leagues in the world.
Being able to play overseas goes far beyond taking your passport and booking the next available flight to your desired country. There are a whole lot of factors one would need to consider before embarking on such a journey.
Since playing overseas is a dream shared by many young soccer players, this article will help simplify what the entire process entails. We look closely into the steps and methods you would need as a soccer player to achieve this dream.
- How To Play Soccer Overseas?
- Step 1: Decide if this is what you want
- Step 2: Do you have the needed skill and talent?
- Step 3: Make a Budget
- Step 4: Get the right exposure
- Step 5: Learn the language and culture of the country
- Step 6: Get the Right Visa
- Methods to go about successfully playing overseas
How To Play Soccer Overseas?
Let’s not even begin by sugarcoating the entire process. The process of fulfilling your dreams of playing overseas can be stressful and time-consuming if you don’t know what you’re doing.
There are thousands, if not millions, that share this same goal. Everyone is looking for opportunities for an overseas tryout to showcase their skills.
Is it possible to play overseas and become a renowned professional soccer player? Yes, it is! Christian Pulisic, an American professional soccer player is a great example of soccer players that have made a name for themselves playing overseas.
Although different countries may have slightly different requirements to allow foreign soccer players to have a professional career, on a general level, the steps are similar.
So whether you’re planning to play in Europe, South America, Australia, or Asia, you just have to get a proper understanding of all that is required.
To bring you a step closer to having a successful professional soccer career overseas, the following are various steps to consider before making the move.
- Decide if this is what you want
- Do you have the needed skill and talent?
- Make a budget
- Get the right exposure
- Get the right Visa
Now let’s check out each method above and how they can contribute to helping you play soccer overseas.
Step 1: Decide if this is what you want
Playing overseas is a big step to take. It’ll involve leaving all you know behind and relocating to another country. You have to be intentional with this process and understand how it’ll affect your life.
Playing overseas will require 100% commitment on your part, irrespective of whatever country you intend to play in. This is the most important part of the entire process.
You have to decide if you intend to go pro in soccer and make it a career. Every soccer player does not need to play the sport at a professional level. Take the time to decide if this is truly what you want.
You’re either all in or you’ll struggle through the process. Let it be your priority so your mind can see it come to pass – be diligent and decisive. Once this is done, you’re closer to actualizing your dream more than ever before.
Step 2: Do you have the needed skill and talent?
You’re not the only way looking to make a move to play soccer overseas. Many soccer players are, more than ever before, deciding to explore soccer opportunities overseas.
What makes you stand out from the crowd? There are certain qualities that overseas scouts, coaches, and agents are constantly looking for to work with. Honestly examine yourself and see if you have got these attributes.
The way you play soccer depicts your level of expertise. It’s easy to spot an amateur, intermediate, and pro soccer player on the pitch.
Work to improve your overall soccer skills. Focus on targeted training to improve your skills on the pitch. Have the desired skills needed in your preferred field position.
Simply put, have a style of play that makes you unique and desirable to coaches and scouts.
Soccer demands players that can endure the strenuous activities of a match. You must be fit and able to play exceptionally in your field position.
You do not want to make the journey all the way overseas and become a liability to both yourself and the coach. No one wants a soccer player that’s easily susceptible to injuries.
Having great speed and stamina is one attribute that separates you from others.
Soccer pitch presence
As a soccer player looking to stand out, you have to have a certain level of charisma on the pitch. Soccer is a team sport and collective efforts from teammates lead to successful games.
You must be aware of the particular position you are assigned to play. Command a presence on the pitch that makes you available to teammates to make passes. The ease of getting the ball from your teammates or opponent seamlessly is a major factor.
Have a pitch presence that makes you not only reliable but dependable. Coaches love players that understand their job description. Do it, and do it well!
You might be a good player but if you’re selfish, insolent, or display any kind of misbehavior to your teammates and club, it might ruin your chances of being scouted.
Maintain a good attitude with everyone around you and scouts might find you appealing to be in their club.
Step 3: Make a Budget
Moving overseas to play soccer will require some form of travel. Paying for airline tickets and other travel expenses can be quite expensive if no concrete plans are made.
Arriving at your destination country will just be the first of many financial obligations you’ll have to undertake. Living expenses, soccer registration fees, etc. are other costs you have to bear in mind.
Undoubtedly, you may have the talent and skills but having a budget to work with will go a long way in making your relocation experience easier.
Step 4: Get the right exposure
Getting noticed by scouts is one of the best ways to play soccer overseas. However, you must engage in more competitive games.
For a soccer player currently residing in the US, these will include the DA, UPSL, USL 2, and NCAA. In the US, scouts aren’t interested in watching high school games because they have successful college soccer leagues.
On the other hand, overseas; especially in Europe, prefer to scout out younger soccer players and groom them to go pro. If you’re living in the US, get the necessary exposure in college soccer to give you opportunities and make the right connections.
Something that isn’t often opening talked about when it comes to becoming a professional soccer player is the role luck plays. Sometimes the difference between two exceptionally gifted soccer players exposed to the same opportunity is the sheer luck that favors one of them.
Seneca puts it right when he said luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. You can have all the talents and skills in the world but luck sets you apart for a more successful soccer career.
Step 5: Learn the language and culture of the country
The decision to play overseas opens you up to opportunities from countries that may not share the same culture or language that you’re used to. An American soccer player looking for opportunities in the UK may not experience much of a culture shock or language dissimilarities.
Take your soccer journey to a country like Spain and things start to look a bit different. Yes, you could be lucky to meet people in that country who share a similar culture but taking the time to learn the country’s culture and language gives you an edge.
No one is expecting you to learn the language at a native-speaking proficiency but regularly conversational phrases will go a long way.
Local coaches in the country may not readily have a translator available, so knowing the language barrier is not much of an obstacle increases your chances of getting selected.
There are many easy ways available today to learn the basics of a language. Avail yourself of these resources while you equally improve your soccer playing abilities.
Step 6: Get the Right Visa
Most soccer players aspiring to play the game overseas tend to take this step for granted. Every country has its immigration laws with regards to foreigners working or visiting the country.
Take the time to read and understand the country’s immigration laws to avoid having issues later on. Even if you have visited the country in the past, do not take their immigration laws for granted.
If you desire to play soccer professionally in that country, it means you’ll spend a long time there. Ensure you get the right Visa to enable you to work and get paid.
Methods to go about successfully playing overseas
Now that you are convinced that moving overseas to explore opportunities to play soccer is what you truly want, you must choose the right method or a combination of methods to make the journey successful. Here are methods to consider to successfully play overseas.
Method 1: Network in person
It takes guts to meet a scout or coach and introduce oneself to them, however, this is another way to get noticed. You can tell them your name and the club you’re playing for.
How can you meet overseas scouts and agents? Scouts travel all around the world looking for new talents to sign. You’ll be amazed by the number of scouts who have been physically present at some of your games but you didn’t pay them due attention.
Sometimes scouts make known their presence by informing coaches. Usually, this is when all players intentionally decide to showcase their skills.
Other times, scouts on vacation can walk in on a soccer game and still be on the lookout for talents. Never take anyone sitting in the stands for granted. Scouts may sometimes look seemingly like regular people.
Even if scouts are not present at your games, someone can be present that has just the right level of connection to push you overseas. Approach any scout respectfully and introduce yourself. Always hand out your soccer résumé for easy contact.
Method 2: Network online
Professionally, LinkedIn is one of the best platforms to market yourself as a player, earn a contract, and trials overseas. There are coaches on this platform so it’s easier to connect with them.
You can just send a message or comment on their posts to get noticed. All you have to do to create an outstanding profile on LinkedIn that will make the coaches see you as competent.
It is not a 100% effective approach to getting scouted but it helps you build relationships with top-ranking individuals in your career.
Method 3: Gain more contact information
It’s wise to gain more contact information from the team. You can get the coach’s office phone number and progress to getting his mobile number to build a relationship with him. You can also get his contact from his social media handles.
Don’t abuse this step to avoid coming off as desperate or being too forward. Use it as an avenue to send over your résumé and digitize documents showing your skills in action.
Method 4: Make use of soccer agents
Soccer agents promote players by connecting them to scouts and coaches. They also give professional advice to players and get paid 10% deducted from the player’s salary.
To increase your chances of getting scouted, it’s advisable to sign a non-exclusive contract with an agent so you can have several agents.
There are many agents out there running scams on prospective professional soccer players. Understanding the need of players to move overseas, some of these soccer agents exploit players without providing meaningful results.
Never pay any soccer agent upfront. This is a good way to know a genuine soccer agent. A soccer agent is required to work for you by helping connect you to overseas clubs. The 10% becomes their reward for completing that task.
If you’re still considering using this option, here are some benefits you get from using soccer agents.
- Negotiating contracts to get the greatest deal for their players.
- Obtaining rich sponsorship and endorsement deals.
- Coordinating media interviews on television, radio, and the internet.
- Offering access to players for meetings or newspaper articles to reporters.
Method 5: Registering for soccer trials
Soccer trials are an opportunity for players to be assessed by a club based on their expertise. This helps the club determine if such a player falls within the requirements of the club.
Although seldom, clubs overseas could organize soccer trials and combine for players outside the country. It is more common where there’s a partnership between the club and a sponsor in another country.
A more reliable way to access this method is to travel overseas and register for tryouts and combines. You could apply for a visiting visa and get the opportunity to showcase before these foreign coaches and agents.
Method 6: Join a soccer academy
Soccer academies are common in Europe and have enjoyed relative success. Unlike in the US where the focus is on getting an education before going pro in soccer or combining both, soccer academies in Europe seem to be more interested in admitting younger players who would later on go to have an academic education.
The required age for any aspiring soccer player to be scouted is around 7-22 years. However, many soccer players get scouted at 13 in soccer academies.
Soccer academies aim to develop their young teams from the age of 11-13 since that’s when the skills of the players are visible. This is when they will know which player is lacking skill and how to help that player develop the needed skill.
However, when they attain the age of 16-18, the academy decides to either let them go to other teams or still work on them.
As more soccer players express intentions of playing soccer overseas, coaches and scouts are more open to working with these players. With lots of scams out there promising connections to overseas soccer clubs, it has become imperative to acquaint oneself with the necessary process.
The article gives an easy step-by-step process to consider in making this dream a reality. Whatever method you choose to move overseas, ensure you stay vigilant and give your best performance when called upon.
Never forget to respect the laws and rules applicable in the country. You wouldn’t want to have issues with the country’s immigration instead of focusing on improving your soccer career.
Hi there, I’m Jay.
The Pitch is Ours is a new beginning for me and a stepping stone to prepare before retiring from the professional soccer team. Soccer is everything in my life! My friends and I have created this blog with all our enthusiasm, passion, and understanding after years of playing pro soccer. Hope you will enjoy it!