Late Bloomers in Football: Can you Become a Pro Soccer Player at your Late 20s

Omar Elhussieny

If you are old enough, I am sure you have witnessed at least one football caterpillar transform into a butterfly. Every now and then we hear about a new football prodigy who is sought after by all giant clubs. But what about those who don’t make it to the professional ranks by their early 20s? Is it still conceivable to fulfill that dream as you become considerably older? The answer is yes, and there are numerous motivating tales of footballers who made the leap to the professional ranks in their mid-20s as late bloomers.

Example 1: Jamie Vardy

From carrying medical equip to lifting the English Premier League title and overshadowing fellow late bloomer Didier Drogba.

One such player is Jamie Vardy, who gained recognition playing for Leicester City FC in the English Premier League as one of the most prolific scorer. Before opting to sign with Leicester City FC at the age of 27, Jamie began his career playing non-league football and worked his way upwards in the sport, appearing for a number of different teams. He impressively managed to play an important role in the team’s 2016 Premier League first ever victory. He made his UEFA Champion League debut the following season, again proving his quality as a goal poacher. Unsurprisingly, since then he had a number of big clubs bidding for him including Chelsea FC who had a similar history with Ivorian star Didier Drogba. On international level, Vardy has been a part of English squad since he rose to fame in 2015 until he asked to be left out in 2018 in a surprising decision. Notably, he helped the English national team reach the World Cup semi-finals for only the third time in their history. 

Example 2: Juan Arango

The uncharted 26 years old Venezuelan who turned heads in Europe defining the term ‘ Late Bloomer ‘.

Another example is Juan Arango, who turned professional in football at the age of 26. Arango, a Venezuelan midfielder, had played for several teams in his home country before signing with Mexican club Pachuca. He went on to have a successful career in Mexico, playing for several other clubs and eventually earning a move to Europe, where he played for teams in Spain and Germany. After a serious injury in 2005, In the ensuing season, the leading goal-scorer for the team, tallying a remarkable 11 goals in the league, was none other than the Venezuelan legend. Despite the fact the he signed his first professional contract in Europe at the age of 29, Arango was Venezuela’s record holder in international caps and goals for several years, scoring 22 times in 129 matches between 1999 and 2015.

He represented the nation in six Copa America tournaments. One of the most the remarkable highlights in Juan’s career is his playing time with Borussia Monchengladbach and Mallorca. Featuring in 157 games and netting 25 goals for the German club. While in Spain he has worn Mallorca’s emblem in 183 games and netted 45 goals for the Spanish powerhouse.

How to Become a Professional Soccer Player in Your Mid to Late 20s

So, what did these players do to achieve their dreams of becoming professional football players in their mid or late 20s? The answer is simple and predicted: they worked hard and never gave up on their dreams.

First and foremost, both Vardy and Arango had a passion for the game that kept them motivated to continue pursuing their dreams. They also had a strong work ethic and were willing to put in the time and effort necessary to improve their skills and develop as players. They constantly reminded themselves of the reason why they are doing this regardless of any obstacle or hardship. They love the game, and they want to continue playing and pursuing their dream even if it wasn’t the usual outcome at such age.

Furthermore, both sides were willing to take chances and make sacrifices to accomplish their goals. To make ends meet, Vardy, for example, had to balance his football career with a full-time job at a factory. However, Arango had to depart his family in Venezuela to follow his ambition in Mexico.

 Finally, both players were able to take advantage of opportunities when they presented themselves. After catching the eye of a scout, The English striker was offered the opportunity to try out for Leicester City, and he made the most of it by impressing the coaching staff with his talents and work ethic. Arango, meanwhile, was able to earn a move to Europe after performing well in the Mexican league and catching the eye of scouts from teams in Spain and Germany. This part in particular emphasizes what I explained earlier in my article ‘Becoming a pro football player’. We all get a number of opportunities, but if you are not prepared, you won’t be able to capitalize.

In conclusion, the stories of Jamie Vardy and Juan Arango serve as an inspiration to anyone who has ever dreamed of turning professional in football. These athletes demonstrated that it is never too late to chase your aspirations, and that everything is achievable with hard work, determination, and a willingness to take risks. So, if you want to play professional football, don’t give up – keep working hard and pursuing your dreams, and who knows what the future may contain.