Licensed German football agent Oliver Schlegl talks about agent’s business, African market, phone calls in the middle of the night, tools like Fieldoo.com and much more.
The clock showed 2:30 a.m. when my phone started to ring. Although it wasn’t in my bedroom, it still broke the silence of the night. After some time and many rings, it woke me and (unfortunately), my girlfriend as well. Our still glued eyes slowly opened and we stared at each other, not completely understanding what was happening. The telephone stopped but started again only seconds later.
“What’s your bet,” she said. “Nigeria or Ghana?”
As a matter of act, the phone of a players’ agent rings quite often. Colleagues, players, or clubs usually call during the day and sometimes in the evening. But then there are those unrequested and penetrating calls in the middle of the night.
41 missed calls
They usually come from country codes such as +233 (Ghana) or +234 (Nigeria). In the beginning of my time as an agent, they happened so often that I decided to turn of the ring tone before going to bed. It was a god decision because one morning I detected 41 missed calls… all from the same number!
Whether those players or agents got my number here in Fieldoo or from the FIFA list of players’ agents, I can feel their desperation as much as their missing common sense of when to call somebody in Europe.
Besides the time difference, the reason these calls go unanswered is because almost all African players don’t have a decent video of themselves. Furthermore, there are hardly any statistics available about their career. So a reliable source about their performance doesn’t exist. Therefore no head coach or sports director of a European club will show any interest in them. On top of that, there are difficult visa formalities to overcome.
The only option I actually have then, is to send them to one of our academies in Ghana or Egypt where serious tests of their capabilities are possible.
1000 professional players and 450 licensed agents in Germany
SPOCS, the agency I work for, has a very god reputation and also very successful academies in the African continent. The first example is in Accra (Ghana) where a number of young talents are gathered there under the leadership of Edwin Simeon-Okraku, our strenuous local manager. With his good nose for potential professional players, he managed to bring out a few youngsters with enormous capabilities, including one who made it into Germany directly and plays today in 1. Bundesliga.
With a similar concept in Egypt, SPOCS owner Sascha Empacher managed to bring various players from the African continent into Europe’s top leagues.
It goes to show that the African continent has a huge number of diamonds in the rough and it is leading SPOCS to consider opening more academies in the future.
Competition doesn’t end with the players, though. The market for agents is also extremely competitive today. There are around 1000 professional players in Germany’s 1. and 2. Bundesliga. But Germany alone has almost 450 licensed agents. Not to mention the unknown number of unlicensed people trying to work their way in. Due to this unhealthy ratio, it is clear that an agent can work as hard as he wants; and it’s quite unlikely that he (or she) will be successful without partners.
This is especially relevant for agents who are relatively new and unknown in the market. Knowing the advantages of cooperation from my previous work life as an airline manager and after some trial and error it has been made clear to me that being a part of an existing and well-reputed agency offers me the possibility to develop and prosper as a players’ agent.
Agent doesn’t want to risk by offering inadequate players
Whenever you want to sell anything, you have to make sure to have a good product. In my business this means quality players, which are always in demand.
Naturally you can scout them in your vicinity, get to know them personally, introduce yourself, and discus with them their options on the market.
In our digital world, we have more options and tools. One of the tools I use is Fieldoo. It gives me the possibility to search for players all over Europe, even according to specific categories. The unfair advantage is the simplicity of contacting interesting players. Some of them don’t reply but so far, the majority I’ve reached out to, got back to me. With videos and some further research, I am usually able to get a relatively sound picture about a player.
And this is one of the most important pre-conditions for a serious agent before he offers a player to any club. No agent wants to risk his reputation by offering players who are inadequate or have already a bad reputation in the market. But for the right player, I will even take the phone call at 2:30 a.m.
At football network Fieldoo we connect 150,000+ players & agents, enhance transfers and transparency in the world of football. Thousands of Fieldoo members found a new club in the last season (2013/14). Become one of them by joining (player or agent) the platform.
Fieldoo user Oliver Schlegl is a German football players’ agent, licensed by Latvian Football Federation, working for SPOCS agency. He works all accross Europe, however, his main regions of activity are Baltic region, ex-Yugoslavian countries, Scandinavia and some other countries.