Nobody likes trials. But nowadays almost every football player has to do some kind of a trial before signing a contract.
Good trial vs. bad trial
Nobody likes trials. But nowadays almost every football player has to do some kind of a trial before signing a contract. Trials can be as simple as a medical examination only or complicated as two weeks of training sessions, friendly games, physical testing and so on.
I have done my share of trials along the way and I have characterized them simply as good or bad trials. The good ones were the ones after which I signed the contract and bad ones were where I didn’t. It was that simple. The most memorable trial for me was a set of unbelievable coincidences leading to a signed contract.
Big mouth agent
I was 23 and I played for one of the top clubs in my country. The season was coming to an end and due to a yellow card penalty I didn’t play the match that weekend. To my surprise I got a phone call from an agent whom I knew from before and he came to watch the match with some special guests from Austria. He wanted me to meet them.
They were; a head coach of an Austrian premier league club and his assistant. They looked very excited to meet me and soon I discovered why. I have played a few times for the U-21 national team in the past, but this agent told them, that I was the captain of that team and scored 15 goals in 8 matches as a defensive midfielder. This was not true. He said I was one of the best mid-fielders in the region and that the club would make a huge profit from me in the future. Although surprised, I played along but couldn’t wait to get the agent in private and ask him what the hell he was doing. After all, they could check the statistics on the internet at any moment. But the agent was ice cool and just said I had nothing to be worried about and that he has everything covered.
The thing was that this club had just sold their best midfielder to Rapid Vienna and needed a new solution at that position. So the coach asked me if I was ready to travel the next morning with them and spend a few days with the team to then negotiate the contract. I rushed home, packed my things and travelled to Austria the next morning.
The coach, assistant and I were driving together in a car. My agent stayed home. We had a long drive in front of us so we had a lot of time to chat. Since the coach was Belgian, his assistant Austrian an there was me, we were communicating in English. Then the coach made a phone call to the president of their club and he started speaking the Austrian native language, German. He didn’t know I could speak German too. I remember the coach saying that they are bringing a top young midfielder as a replacement for the player they sold and that this transfer would be surprisingly inexpensive. I didn’t show any reaction.
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Finally we got there. The city was beautiful, placed by the lake and surrounded with mountains and I liked it immediately. They put me in this very tiny hotel room, but I didn’t mind because my only goal was to make it there.
As the season was ending and the club already achieved their goals, they didn’t train so much that week, so I had to wait two days to do the first training with the team. I was anxious. Then the first training came. I was lucky that the players didn’t put their 100%, so I had an easier job showing my skills to the coaching staff. I did really well on first three trainings but still nothing happened and days went by as I was waiting to get the contract. One week flew by and I had to return back home without a signed contract. Coach told me it was a sure thing and they will sign me, I just have to come to a few more trainings in the next pre-season in one month time. At that point I was disappointed thinking the whole trip was just a failure.
After one month passed I was already planning to transfer to another club, when I received a call from that big mouth agent regarding the same Austrian club. Again he said everything is ok and that this time he would go with me and the transfer will be closed in a matter of days. So I went again. Only this time there were four additional players in my position having a trial. And one of them was really good. But something happened he sprained his ankle during a friendly game and therefore fell out of the picture. The club decided to sign me.
While negotiating the contract my agent took the same tactics as before and was telling fairy tales about me to the clubpresident. He made me look like Maradona, just to squeeze as much as possible from them. I didn’t say anything, just hoping they wouldn’t check the stats on internet. We reached an agreement and signed the contract.
I was happy and looking back I thought it was a great trial. But the funny thing is that the only thing that separates a good trial from the bad one is whether you sign the contract or not. Although I showed my best, I have to admit that many details went my way in order to sign for that club.
Some people call it karma, some destiny and some people call it luck. Anyway you call it, in football you cannot succeed without it.
The Diary Of A Football Player
A series of posts with everyday examples from a footballer’s real life. It’s a mosaic of sport life from someone with experience (the author has been a footballer for 15 years). Many times controversial in his career, but always with love for the game.