SETGK | ASK A PRO
WITH ROBERT MONTANARO OF OSTAVALLS IF (SWEDEN)
“Being a pro is hard work.” As an athlete and especially a goalkeeper you’ve probably heard that your whole life. You most likely envision endless hours spent training on the pitch or in the gym and if so, you’d be pretty spot on. What often gets overlooked about however, are the other aspects that make the pitch and the gym work look like a walk in the park. What I’m talking about are the lonely nights, the self doubts, the injuries and their subsequent rehab processes, the sacrifices you will inevitably have to make and the friendships you will have to forgo in order to get to a point in your sport that few are able to reach.
When watching the Premier League on TV or checking out the All or Nothing series on Man City, it can seem like professional footy is one of the most glamorous things you can do…huge crowds, adoring fans, massive paychecks, fancy cars, beautiful pitches and the works. The reality is that for 99% of professional footballers, this is not the case. It’s long bus rides, living paycheck to paycheck, moving from country to country, playing in front of 300-400 people in small towns, strained relationships, dealing with homesickness and depression, negotiating with shady agents/club officials and a whole lot more.
I don’t say all this to scare young players away, I say it so that people understand the realities. In fact, my journey so far in professional football has been the most rewarding, frustrating, exhilarating, challenging and ultimately amazing experience of my life. I have to date; lived in 5 countries, learned two new languages (although my Swedish is VERY basic), discovered parts of the world I would have never even known existed, made lasting friendships in different countries and have gotten paid to kick a ball around and compete in front of great fans and occasionally a big crowd.
The point I am trying to make here is twofold. First, being a professional footballer is hard work, not just physically but mentally, emotionally and socially and second, it is not always glamorous but it is incredibly rewarding. So all of this is to say, if you chase this dream, chase it for the right reasons and enjoy the journey. You only get to do it once and if you do it right you’ll not only have the time of your life, but you’ll also learn and grow as a person along the way.