Is talent enough to make a career?

19 July 2022
2 min reading time

To become a professional soccer player, you need to work hard, be committed and have the right attitude towards training and the ball itself. And, by the way, it would be good to have… a bit of talent. But is talent alone, unsupported by hard work, enough to get to the top?.

Talent, according to Wikipedia, is an innate predisposition in an intellectual, motor or artistic field, manifested by an above-average degree of proficiency in a given field or the ability to learn it quickly. If we talk about soccer, this is not limited to the fact that one kid is better than another. Rafal Matusiak, director of training at Jagiellonia Białystok’s academy, believes the same: I think that in Poland we are not able to identify talent well.

In my opinion, talent is the ability to make decisions, or in other words, cognitive intelligence. Attitude, work ethic and the ability to learn are also very important.

For me, these are the three most important things. At a given stage you may be a little stronger or faster, and these aspects highlight your strengths and cover up your weaker ones, but if you don’t have the right work ethic, cognitive intelligence, ability to make decisions in dynamic situations and can’t learn quickly, then in my opinion, you don’t have the talent.

An example of a talented soccer player is, for example, Leo Messi. The Argentine stood out from an early age, by no means physical conditions, which play a big role in children’s soccer. However, the new acquisition of Paris Saint-Germain won 6 Golden Balls, because… he worked hard for them. Is it possible to do otherwise? We asked several coaches if they had encountered examples of footballers who had a lot of skill, but lacked the right attitude.

  • Of course I have encountered such players. They no longer play soccer today, even though they had great talents. However, they didn’t have the talent to work hard,” explains Matusiak.
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  • There have been a few such players They happened a dozen years ago, a few, they are now and I think they will continue to be. I don’t know such players who had a completely frivolous approach and broke through. I know players who had a lot of slackness, self-confidence, but they never lacked determination and commitment to training and the game,” replies Piotr Leczynski, the current coach of the Polish senior junior champions.
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  • I have met with such players. There was a case of a boy, about 10 years ago, but I wasn’t his direct coach, because he was in the senior national team, who at the age of 16 was an important figure of the country’s youth national teams, while as an 18-year-old… he disappeared. I know that he stopped playing soccer, he didn’t get involved in sports. His problem was that all the key factors didn’t work – proper diet, approach to classes or commitment,” notes Bartosz Sieminski of Slask Wroclaw.
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Mario Balotelli or Radja Nainggolan did not look like players who shone with the right approach to soccer. Rather, they were examples of what one should…not do. But it was they, and not the far better-run players who performed at Europe’s top clubs. Not to mention the likes of Ronaldinho, who also took a casual approach to his profession, and performed miracles with the ball on the field.

  • The right attitude isn’t just about work ethic, because you can work hard but not have joy from it. Everything works out to enjoying the game. When you went out to play ball as a kid, you did it for enjoyment. In my opinion, we are moving too quickly toward specialization, and simply today’s kids no longer have … that joy of the game. I have the irresistible impression that among young people soccer is increasingly becoming a duty and less and less a pleasure,” notes Rafal Matusiak.
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What to do if you don’t have the talent, and your peers are better than you? Is there any way? Have there been examples in the past of players who did not stand out in youth categories, but became great footballers?

  • Not everyone has a talent for soccer, and most probably don’t even have it, they just work hard for their success. Analyzing the composition of any team, you can find players everywhere who were not always top figures in their yearbook, did not necessarily play in all the youth national teams, and made international careers, the best proof of which is Robert Lewandowski, who only made his debut in the under-21 national team. The Bayern Munich footballer is an example of the fact that with hard work you can get to the top. Looking the other way, I have guided many players at the level of the Central Junior League, who played regularly in youth national teams and their adventures in football ended, so just being in the national team or winning the Polish junior championship is not a guarantee of success,” explains Leczynski.
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  • In my opinion, in addition to talent and hard work, one must be lucky and patient. A talented player over the course of, for example, 10 matches will stand out in 5-6 clashes, while a hard-working player may stand out in one or two The latter, however, needs luck, so that just in these two matches someone notices him and gives him a chance,” Sieminski tells us.

Among others, Kamil Piatkowski, who started playing football in his hometown of Jaslo, took his opportunity very well. His former coach recalled that as a kid he wasn’t even the biggest star of the local UKS, while during a meeting between the Podkarpacie U-15 national team and Poland’s youth national team, he showed himself to be so good that the top training centers in Poland came forward for him. He ended up in Zagłębie Lubin, there he didn’t break through, then he got a chance from Marek Papszun in Raków Częstochowa, and today he’s a defender for Red Bull Salzburg, to which he was transferred in the summer for five million euros.

We have two pieces of advice – for talented and hard-working guys: for the former, not to rest on their laurels and do everything to make the most of their gift from fate; for the latter – that even if they are now losing the competition to others, they should not stop believing that one day they will be the ones to deal the cards.


A team of sports enthusiasts, especially football. The texts are basically written by the whole team, sometimes also with the cooperation of external editors associated with the football community.