Steven Davis is an ex professional footballer, playing for Crewe, Burnley and Barnsley. He continued his football journey when he stepped into management with Crewe Alexandra F.C. , Leyton Orient F.C. and is currently working with Wolverhampton Wanderers F.C. U23’s.
What do you look for in a modern day footballer?
I guess the first thing I think of with this question is what does ‘modern day’ mean now in 2021? How is it different from in my day in 1982 when I started my journey ? .. well for me a player now has incredible support, with a multi disciplinary team, which I currently lead at Wolverhampton Wanderers Fc. Social media also has a major part to play in a players social development, this can be good and bad in my experience.
There are many qualities I look for in an elite modern day footballer, so I’ll just give you my key ones….
Can the player take on information you are giving him, is he coachable and does he/can he self reflect.
Game intelligence is vital to make consistent decisions at speed which are pivotal to becoming an elite player and usually define what level you eventually play at.
Another vital component which defines your level.
The very top players I’ve coached and seen have an incredible focus, drive and determination to succeed.They can also perform under pressure.
Most have the ability and mental capacity to cope and recover from adversity because the career pathway is full of highs and lows and extreme pressure which can distinguish between them becoming the best or the nearly’s!
I love to see players who practice all the time, that shows exceptional self motivation and a willingness to improve themselves and master their techniques.
The other thing I look for is leadership qualities; There are lots of types of leadership but in this day of social media where players spend hours on phones alone in bedrooms or with friends it’s not a surprise you don’t find as many as you used to. In our programme at Wolves we encourage the player to be open in conversation and put players in uncomfortable positions where they have to speak in a group and make decisions for the the team to break those barriers.
The ability to perform all the ball skills required in the game with both feet under pressure and therefore maintaining high performance.
This should be taught from foundation age all the way through as it will give the player a better chance of playing at a higher level. Training, extra Practice and individual specific sessions will help improve this but you need the self motivation mentioned above to give you the best chance.
When I watch very young players playing football ,my initial thoughts are… “he looks like a player” ….and what I mean by that is he moves around with ease, has excellent balance off both of his feet and shows willingness to run both in and out of possession.
Physical elements can be improved over years as the player moves through the maturation period but sometimes the characteristics or in some cases the inherited genes of young players means they might not ever be able to develop the speed, power, Balance, acceleration, endurance etc which are paramount to becoming an elite athlete.
Love Of The Game
Probably the most important but less talked about by most coaches.
Does he really love what he does? I ask this question a lot and you would be surprised how many players I’ve worked with that don’t support a team or don’t even enjoy watching football! If you want to be the best you have to love what you do and devote yourself to it. That will take some sacrifices but it doesn’t mean to say you can’t have other interests or ambitions.
All I ever wanted to do when I was young was become a professional footballer for as long as possible, one of the things that got me there was my ‘love of the game’ which still burns brighter than ever as I continue on my journey!