There are many traits needed to be a good footballer. Some you can work on in training, others take time and experience to develop. Mohammed Saeid has traveled the world to play football and at age 29 has plenty of useful advice to offer any aspiring young footballers on how to make it in the professional game.
Saeid started his career in Sweden, before moving to England to sign for West Bromwich Albion’s academy. He enjoyed a spell at Fulham as a youngster before returning home to Sweden, spending time in MLS in USA and Denmark. His current club, IK Siriusare enjoying one of their best ever seasons this year in Sweden’s Allsvenskan.
The importance of self-belief
In a recent interview on the Nordic Football PodcastSaeid spoke with Just Football editor Jonathan Fadugba about the mental side of the game and how important it is for young players looking for a career in football.
“It’s very big [the mental side of the game]. You can see the difference in a player like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the kind of elite mentality that he has. He wants more out of every player but he demands the most out of himself.
“People fail to see that part, they just see that he demands a lot from everyone else around him but they do not realize that he demands so much from himself as well.”
“It’s very important to have the mental side,” Saeid told the Nordic Football Podcast, “Because any time you have a weakness – especially if it’s on the mental side – you will struggle in a game. Because you will make so many mistakes in a game, everyone does. ”
“[The key is] how do you deal with that mistake? Do you get back onto the horse and do it again? Or do you give up and say “I have failed, I do not want to pass the ball anymore” or “I do not want to shoot anymore” or “I do not want to get in the box anymore because I ‘ m afraid to miss? ” So the mental aspect is very important. ”
Rise in sports psychology
Saeid goes on to talk about how clubs increasingly value and try to help players unlock the mental side of their game:
“Just to show how important it is, when I was a youngster at West brom everyone had a psychologist. At the time I did not understand why it was so important to have a psychologist. I do now after many years.
“The psychologist was asking me about all my mistakes, how do you take a penalty, what do you do before the penalty… and many things like that which had me questioning myself at the time.
“He had a difficult time talking to me because I would not let him in a certain way because I was thinking it’s a bluff to have a psychologist. But I realize now it’s really not you know, it’s good to talk to someone about everything. He will not judge you for the person that you are. So yes, the mental aspect is very important. ”
That idea of self-belief and confidence in what you can do is something Saeid feels is important to any young player starting out in the game.
“At the end of the day you should first of all believe in yourself. Because if you do not believe in yourself, who else will? You are your biggest critic, and you are your biggest fan, and you should always be. ”
Saeid is someone who has fought to become an established player at the level he is at, and as an international footballer for Eritrea with experience at eight top level professional clubs under his belt, his wisdom is valuable.
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His point about self-belief goes beyond football, and is something that is for all young people who are striving to achieve:
“You should always be training hard, you should always expect the best from yourself. But the big thing is to never give up. If you have a dream, go for it. It does not matter if it is a school, a sport, anywhere. You should never give up your dream, you should always work hard for it.
“Nothing should be taken for granted, because you never know when it’s going to be taken away from you. The things that you can control you should do the best out of it. That would be my biggest thing, if someone had told me that when I was younger I would have taken it and ran with it. ”
Be single-minded and block out noise
On lacking belief as a young player:
“It’s not so much that I lacked belief, it’s more that I listened too much to certain coaches.
“For instance if I was a dribbler they would tell me to pass the ball, and then I passed the ball so much I lost my own game. So then if they would release me they would blame me and say “Oh you’re no different from any of the other guys we have, anyone can do the job that you do.” Do you know what I’m saying!
“So when I say believe in yourself it’s to believe in your quality and never let anyone change what you are. You should always try to get better, but never let someone take away the thing that made you love the game in the first place. ”
This realization, and lessons learned with both time and age, will vary from player to player, as is natural in life:
“Not everyone develops when they are 11 years old. Some develop at later stages, 19, 20, 21, some 25 even, some break through when they are 25, so stay patient, work hard, and believe in yourself. ”
Listen to the full podcast on iTunesSpotify or web browser below to hear more from the experienced professional as Mohammed Saeid speaks in detail about his time at West Brom and Fulham, his time in America and Sweden, the keys to IK Sirius’ success, the best players in Allsvenskan, the differences between playing in front of crowds or no fans and how lockdown has helped IK Sirius develop into one of the best teams in Sweden in 2020.