Raw talent? Hard-work? A combination of both?
We sat down with six Caltex Socceroos and asked what advice they would give to youngsters – in their chosen positions – who are keen to pursue a career as a footballer.
JACKSON IRVINE (Midfielder)
As a young man, the most important thing is to enjoy the game, love the game. Play the game with passion.
Obviously technical ability and everything will be deciding factors in the level that you reach but the one thing that they can never take away from you is the passion and desire and that fire.
I think it’s a bit of lost art nowadays, guys having that fire in the belly and wanting to wear your heart on your sleeve.
I think that’s where it all starts – you have to have love for the game and that raw desire to be on the pitch and play the game.
Eventually technical ability and essentials of game knowledge will come but as a young man I would say don’t ever let a game or training session drift by or pass by.
Make sure you really try and influence it in some way that you can.
TIM CAHILL (Forward)
Train hard. Keep training. Listen, don’t talk. The biggest way I learnt was by watching and listening. So I think the main thing is to watch, listen and train hard.
TOMI JURIC (Forward)
Practice. As I was growing up I used to go to the park with my old man. I was lucky enough that he would like to come with me all the time.
I used to go and kick the ball on the toilet wall. I used to shoot [at the wall] all the time.
Just practice will get you to the top, work hard. You need a little bit of reward along the way and with hard work a good opportunity could come your way and you need to take it with both hands.
MARK MILLIGAN (Midfielder)
Stick to your strengths. Do what you’re good at and do it well. Make sure you always work hard. In this day and age, first and foremost, you have to work hard.
AARON MOOY (Midfielder)
Just try to improve all the time. Don’t always listen to what everyone else is saying on the outside, keep focusing on what you’re doing.
There’s going to be lots of up and downs but you have to be willing to take it [criticism] when it’s not going well.
TRENT SAINSBURY (Defender)
Try and become an attacker!
But I think if you want to become the one of the best defenders in the world you have to watch what the best defenders and what they are doing off the ball. [Italian great Paolo] Maldini’s quote is my favourite: "If you have to make a tackle, you’ve already made a mistake". That’s what I live by.