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Footballer Football player, professional football player

Professional footballers play for their club or national team, travelling around the UK and abroad.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: Variable average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: Variable per week

1. Entry requirements

There are no set requirements, but you'll need football playing talent and physical fitness.

From the age of 9 years you’re eligible to join an academy run by a league club. If you’re under 12, you must live within an hour’s travelling distance. If you’re aged between 13 and 16, you must be able to travel within 90 minutes.

When an academy takes you on, they’ll ask you to sign schoolboy forms which may be renewed every 1 to 2 years.

At age 16, the club will decide whether to put you on its Youth Training Scheme. There are a few scholarships available. You’ll be expected to continue with your education at this point.

You could be on this scheme for up to 3 years. If you’re making progress, you could be put in the Reserves.

Another option, if you're 16 to 19, is to get a place on the SkillsActive Advanced Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence (AASE).

At age 19 you may be offered a contract to play for the club, or you may be released into a central pool for other clubs to make you an offer. These may be lower-ranking than the one you’ve trained with.

2. Skills required

You'll need:

  • exceptional footwork and technical skills
  • the ability to cope with the stress of top matches

3. What you'll do

The level you’ll play at depends on which league your club is in. This can change from year to year.

Your day-to-day activities may include:

  • training hard to improve your skills and fitness
  • discussing tactics and mental attitudes
  • watching videos of matches to analyse your strengths and weaknesses
  • getting fitness advice from physiotherapists and coaches
  • taking advice from nutritionists about general diet and match-day food
  • playing matches against teams in your league

You may also give interviews to the media or do charity work.

4. Salary

Your salary will vary widely depending on your reputation as a player, and on the club's finances. You may earn extras like appearance fees, sponsorship and bonuses based on performances and results.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You'll train most days. Match fixtures are usually evenings and weekends. You'll travel with your club or team to matches all over the UK or abroad, so you may spend time away from home.

6. Career path and progression

You could progress by transferring to a club higher up in the football leagues.

You could move into related careers like coaching, fitness instruction, refereeing, management, sports development or journalism.

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Last updated: 12 April 2017