The beautiful game, for all its imperfections and flaws, never ceases to amaze. Whether it be a stunning goal, a shock result, a controversial transfer, or a tabloid revelation, football’s unpredictability is what drives our passion for the game.
In the first month of 2010, football threw up many surprises that have shocked the English game. From Leeds United’s outstanding victory at Old Trafford, to the John Terry saga that has reared its ugly head over the last week, football’s ability to keep players, fans and particularly agents on their toes is unlike any other sport.
The job of a football agent is to react to these surprises and cease the opportunities thrown our way.
One such opportunity was handed to us last week when, following a tip off from a contact in Spain, we dashed up to a Premier League club’s training ground with the hope of speaking to a young Spanish trialist. Little did we know when we received the call, just what sort of a journey we were embarking on. It has taken us on a whirlwind adventure and a fast learning curve into a side of agency life that supporters rarely see.
Relationship building is part of the agent’s job, but when the player speaks no English and the best Spanish you can muster is to order two beers and paella, to say that this is difficult is a huge understatement. After a lot of pointing and speaking loudly (think English tourist in a Spanish restaurant but replace the menu with an FA contract), we enlisted the help of a translator and eventually came to an agreement with the player and are currently in the process of seeking trials to showcase his unquestionable talent.
The importance of an agent making the client understand that you are working on behalf on them and not the other way round cannot be stressed enough. We have been frantically contacting top flight clubs across the country, meeting with managers and moving the player and his mother across London. The language barrier has proved to be a major challenge and the amount of information that has been lost in translation has on many occasions threatened to break the relationship. However, our work in keeping the player happy, organising hotels, trials, meetings and transport along with the player’s ambition to play in this country has turned us from strangers barely a week ago, to what feels like family.
Our Spanish adventure has just started yet we are hopeful that the relationship will flourish and the player will go on to have a long and successful career. However, as we are well aware, nothing in football is certain and one mistranslated conversation can change the whole scenario. What the agent must do is fulfil his brief and build a relationship of trust and loyalty with the player, irrelevant of the obstacles that obstruct the path to success.