Every players dream is to play for their National team and become an international soccer star, but how many are really willing to do whatever it takes to get there? There is no prouder moment or higher pinnacle you can reach then putting on your countries jersey and playing for trophies at the international soccer level. Players dream that one day they will be able to wear the colours of their country but what are all the steps and sacrifices it takes to finally reach that moment?
Whether you're just starting out or knocking on the National team door here you will find all the advice and tips you will need to one day reach that dream of yours. Attributes you'll need, things to avoid and different steps you can take to get scene on the international stage and invited to your first national team camp. You will also need to know some of the rules around what country you can actually play for at the international level and which ones you can't based on where you were born, where your family was born and much more surrounding those rules. Either way start thinking about what you need to add to your game to get that level and read below to see how so many pro's have done it in the past, first stop national team, second stop World Cup champion maybe?
1. Become the Best Player In Your League - Well this is one is quite obvious but important to remember to keep your expectations in check. Making a national team is one of the most difficult things to do in the game and if you're not clearly the best or one of the best in whichever league you may be playing in your chances are slim. Assuming you're playing at the highest club/university level for your age your goal is to be the best in your position to have a shot to be invited to a National team camp. Be real with yourself, if you're not clearly the best or among them you need to put some more work in and improve until you're there.
2. Have A High Level Connection Refer You - You need someone who is one phone call, email or text away from someone involved with the national team of your country. It doesn't have to be the head coach but it does need to be someone who can get in the ear of them, perhaps there is a coach that used to coach you that knows the vice president or assistant coach and see if they are willing to to reach out to them about you. If they don't do it or are hesitant to then you know you're not ready for that next jump and you should ask them why and what it takes for them to reach out to that person, the soccer world is small so think of who your link is.
3. Create Online Videos & Identity - This goes without say these days but you need to have some sort of online identity or presence with regards to who you are what you can do on the pitch. If the moment ever comes when a scout or coach wants more information you need to have that ready to direct them to full game tape and a highlight tape so they can do some further digging.
4. Play For the Top Clubs - As much as we love the small town kid story who's the best player on his team I'm sorry to say but those aren't the kids that get scouted and recruited to play at the highest level. The best teams have the best players and that's where all the scouts and coaches go watch and identify kids, sorry small town FC.
5. Go Overseas To Get Noticed - If things aren't happening for you domestically maybe trying to go play at the next level may raise your stock and put you on the national teams radar. A player that changes scenery and is playing pro in Sweden for example but couldn't quite get where they wanted in the USA may be looked at with a different lens back home. The old "how did we miss him, he must be quality if he signed overseas" may start creeping into their minds and from that you may get a look.
1. Contacting the Staff Directly - As eager and persistent as you may be the national team staff for your country gets dozens of emails daily from players just like you so don't put yourself in that bracket of players who are never going to get an email back. Instead keep your head down and look to improve you game everyday until you think you're at the level and see if you can get a high level soccer person (coach, senior staff, scout etc) to put in a good word for you to get your name on their radar.
2. Making Excuses - Everyone has a story about why they haven't been selected for their national team and why they aren't their countries next great international soccer star. The last thing you want to do is start making excuses and blaming everyone but yourself about why you aren't a part of the national team set up. It's nobody's fault but your own, until you start taking responsibility for why you aren't where you want to be you'll never figure out the path to get there. Look yourself in the mirror and assess why you aren't at the level you want and work like hell on your deficiencies to give yourself the best chance possible.
3. Giving Up - Achieving your dreams of making it at the elite international soccer level won't be a straight line to the top. There will be days where you want to throw in the towel and others where you're on top of the moon, what's important is not too get too high on your highs or low on your lows and stay positive and humble no matter what curve ball life comes your way. Through the injuries, loses and poor performances there is always a light and an opportunity to improve and learn from the past, with that said never give up on your dreams, no matter how bleak it may look at times.
1. Dedication & Work Ethic - There's no elevator to success, you have to take the stairs. This saying is as true for life as it is for soccer or anything else really. The international soccer players you see on TV all have a story which foundation was built on hard work, sacrifice and incredible dedication, I suggest you start following their lead. Examine your daily routine compared to the other players on your team, are you there an hour before and after training getting extra work in? On the weekends or days off are you putting in extra work in to be prepared better technically, mentally and physically? If you can't answer yes to both of these questions without having to think about it then you've got some serious work to do young fella.
2. One Outstanding Physical Quality - You don't have to be the most athletic and physically dominant player to exist but you do need to have at least one exceptional physical quality. Either you have to be the strongest, fastest, quickest or best conditioned player on your team and in your league for that matter. David Beckham is a great example of a player who wasn't the strongest, most athletic or fastest player out there so he dedicated himself to being the fittest player on any pitch he stepped on. You need to do the same, if you're blessed with one of these physical qualities work like a dog to improve them even more, if not dedicate yourself to be the fittest player in any game you play.
3. Producing an Outcome or Going Unnoticed - If you're an attacking player you need to produce results in the attacking third of the field with goals, assists and plays that lead directly to goal scoring chances. As pretty as you may look running around the pitch with your flicks, passes and decisions the best international soccer players that play for their national teams make things happen close to the opponents goal. Now if you're a player that makes their money on the defensive side of things your job is to go unnoticed. Don't be that defender that dribbles out of the back and loses it or tries to play impossible balls to nobody. Be defensively sound 1v1, clear the ball and make simple smart decisions on the ball, oh and get forward once in awhile, it is the modern game after all!
4. Fundamentally Sound - You need to be able to do all the basics at an expert level in your position to have a chance of one day representing your country and becoming an elite international soccer player. Passing, receiving, clearances, 1v1 defending, dribbling, crossing, shooting etc are some examples of key fundamental skills you need to have mastered.
5. Killer's Mentality - Cue Suarez and Ramos, love them or hate them these two players and many others have the killers mentality that go beyond passion and competitive spirit. Every time you play and train you need to do so as if you're family is locked in a basement and gun point and the only way to rescue them is by performing and changing the game, that's what it takes day in a day out to perform at the international soccer level.
Playing for your national team does have a lot to do with which country you're able to play for because trying to make the Spanish national team versus the San Marino one (no offence) can be two completely different conversations. No matter where you're born you may have some options on which national team you play for (don't worry international soccer star of the future, there's hope yet!). So you have these choices, first you can play for the country of which you were born in, that's pretty simple to figure out and you may also play for the country of which your mother, father or grandparents were born in. You can't go further back then that to your great aunt Mildred put you can go back to where your parents and grandparents were born to see if one of those countries better suits you.
Now if you play with one country at the under 15 or 17 or even 23 level you can still switch to the country of the senior national team you wish to play for. But once you've played just one game with the senior national team that's it, that is the country you have to play for even if you want to change later, that's it no dice. Often you may see players play for their U20 national team but choose a senior team of another country due to several different reasons such as having a change of heart on what country you want to represent or having a better chance at making one teams national side more than the other.
Yes there are, typically each country has a National team squad at the U15, U17, U19, U21, U23 and Senior team levels. Just because you made one national team at a certain age that you're guaranteed the next but you do see some players go all the way through and play at each level. If you're 18 and reading this and think you're too late don't be so fast to hang your head, there have been players who never played a minute for any of the lower rank national teams but went on to be international soccer stars for their senior team so don't give up the fight!
Typically not unless it is some sort of money grab to be honest. Most national teams hand pick the players they want and have scouts working around the clock all over the world so holding an open tryout would be a bit of a waste of time and is something not seen very often at the highest level. Now individual tryouts for the national team happen all the time, a player may get called up for just one camp and in that week he needs to prove why he deserves to stay not only longer for that camp but future camps as well. A national team tryout typically consists of a week of training with some sort of larger game setting to see you play. International soccer is a monster of it's own so just because you're a success with your club team there is no guarantee you'll light it up with the national team or visa versa, just ask Pogba!