If you’ve spent some time kicking balls around at summer football camps in London this year, you may well now have plans in mind of one day becoming a professional footballer and playing for your favourite club – or even your country.

And while this is certainly a worthwhile ambition and not outside the realms of possibility at all, you do need to be aware of just what it takes to get to the top of your game… especially when you think just how competitive this particular career choice actually is. Here are a few tips to help you work out if it’s achievable for you and if you’re prepared to make the sacrifices necessary to really make it as a pro.

Practice, practice, practice

Don’t think you can just cross your fingers, hope for the best and assume that you’ll make it because you have natural talent in abundance. Professional football teams practice for hours each day every single day of the week and if they don’t do this, you can soon tell in terms of goals scored and games won and lost.

You’ll need to be dedicated, single-minded and incredibly focused in order to make it into the top teams, and in order to do this you may well have to make sacrifices at a young age – sacrifices that your group of friends may not have to make.

Stick to a diet plan

You’ll need to start thinking more about what you eat because you’ll be training incredibly intensely, often for over 20 hours a week. Talk to a nutritionist so you can work out how much protein, carbs and fats you’ll need to eat each day so as to optimise your performance both on and off the pitch. An app like My Fitness Pal can really help you keep track of this.

Stay motivated

You’ve got to make sure you keep yourself motivated and keep your end goals in sight, otherwise you may find that certain distractions mean you never quite make it as far as you would have liked. Having fun is key to this – so never lose your love of the game.

Build your confidence

Yes, it’s important to be confident as a player but you’ve got to foster confidence in yourself as a person first, which will then naturally translate into you being a better footballer. Confidence breeds success after all, so focus on practicing self-belief and you’ll soon start to see a difference in the way you play.

Keep fit

You’ve got to get yourself match-ready and this takes as much time as practicing will. You need to build up your stamina, leg power, agility and core strength in order to play modern football because the game is all about high intensity movements these days… so prioritise this at the gym and you’ll see just how important this is in terms of being the best of the best where footballers are concerned.