WARNING: Use of profanity in this article
“Fozzy” (my nickname to all since I was 15 years old), came the shout from the silver haired man
“Yep” I replied
Come back and pick up their striker who stands by the taker a deal with the threat of the short corner.
I knew what that meant, I walked back begrudgingly, mumbling to myself, “Fuck sake”
The club was Reading FC, the man was Alan Pardew, a young manager with a fierce desire to go to the top, which he did, and one of the best mangers I ever played under, I loved him, but not in this moment.
I hated defending, I hated anything that took me away from my sole focus, my main goal, the oppositions goal. My primary reason for playing the beautiful game was to score goals, which wins games.
Defenders, like my good friends Ady Williams & Simon Marus, will always bleat on about titles and promotions being won by defences and clean sheets, but the simple fact remains, you can’t win a game 0-0, they know it.
“Fozzy, just stop the short corner, and if they do take it, deal with the taker, let the other fella have the ball, okay?”
“I can do that gaffer”, I replied, “but, there’s one thing you need to know”
I am the worst defender I the world, I began “there are amoeba on Saturn that could defend better than I can” stealing a line from Edmund Blackadder, “I can try, but if I give away a penalty, don’t blame me, I can guarantee effort, but not quality, you have been warned”
He looked at me, with a look of surprise, disbelief, and frustration.
I smiled, he smiled
Then he said it “just fuck off, fuck off up there, but you’d better hold it up if we clear our lines”
He got back on with his duties.
I smiled again and walked back to my happy place mumbling to myself, “Good man Gaffer”
It’s not that I didn’t want to help the team, it’s not that I wasn’t prepared to do my shift, quite the opposite, I was less gifted than most players, but blessed with incredible pace and a work rate to match, what I lacked in quality I made up with speed and industry
I was striker, a goal scorer, a creator of opportunities to shoot and a fierce hunger to do so when that
I often took a bag of balls out before training to hone my finishing skills, repeating simple shooting drills that could and would materialise in a game situation, and when these situations came my way, the muscle memory of practice was there to help.
I then stayed out after training asking a keeper and 2 wide players tp deliver balls into the box for me to attack, it was all about getting and taking opportunities.
In all it helped 221 times in 721 games – of course i was counting, I’m driven by metrics.
I never practiced defending, never practiced my delivery from full back areas, never practiced coming out of my own goal to catch the ball as a goalkeeper.
Because I was a striker, that was my strength, yes there were areas I needed to work on to improve myself technically, but it was all focussed on scoring goals.
Working on our strengths allows us to become more confident in the abilities that we are already proficient in. These are the reasons we have success, and the better our strengths become, the more our weaknesses are overlooked. I have rarely seen criticisms of Lionel Messi for his defending abilities.
Your strengths will always be what sets you aside from the rest, hone these skills with a passion, elite in one area will always be more valuable than average in all areas
Don’t weaken your strengths by trying to strengthen your weaknesses.
Set, Pursue, Achieve Goals