The Best Soccer Mentors in the Game

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Ibra Ronaldo Poster
Who’s your soccer mentor or idol? You’ve got to learn your trade from somewhere, whether you’re playing soccer or pounding nails into the wall as a carpenter. Here’s a short list of some of the best soccer mentors, those who’ve passed along or are passing along their genius on the soccer pitch to a better, younger, and maybe faster version of themselves. Even the best football / soccer players in the world had a soccer mentor at one time or another – someone who they looked up to. Here are some of the best soccer mentor partnerships in the game.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Ronaldo. Ibrahimovic said that Brazil striker Ronaldo was his boyhood idol. He even had Ronaldo’s poster up on his wall as a kid – as you can see in the image at the top of this page. When Ibrahimovic played for Manchester United he said this about Ronaldo: “I think Ronaldo was phenomenal,” he told the club’s official match program. “He was the football player that whatever he did it became…’wow’! He could do a difficult thing and it became magic.” While Ibrahimovic certainly isn’t at fast as Ronaldo, both players do the unexpected and score goal after goal for their clubs.

Messi and Ronaldinho. These two Barcelona legends had a very tight relationship, full of respect, the two pass the ball to one another as if they share their same software. However, Messi’s idol growing up wasn’t Ronaldinho but Pablo Aimar. But during his early years with the Barcelona first team it was Ronaldinho who looked out for Messi and inspired him.

Quote from Messi: Despite their rivalry with Argentina, Barcelona’s Brazilians look after Messi. “I get on really well with the Brazilians,” he says. “I’m very close to Sylvinho and Deco takes me shopping. Ronaldinho is a phenomenon. He gives me a lot of advice and praises me permanently. We have fun in every training session. He says I’m his little brother.”

Thierry Henry & Van Basten. For Arsenal and French forward Thierry Henry, his soccer idols growing up were George Weah, Ronaldo (the Brazilian Ronaldo) and Dutch striker Marco Van Basten.

Andres Iniesta & Laudrup. Iniesta has said that his two soccer idols growing up were Pep Guardiola and Michael Laudrup. Iniesta also seems to have taken one of Laudrup’s favorite dribbling moves and made it his own, where he switches the ball from one foot to the other and skips past the defender. This Iniesta move is now sometimes called La Croqueta.

For any young soccer player it’s good to have a player you look up to and try to model your game after. Watch that player as much as possible on TV and copy everything they do on the soccer field.

What’s also great about a soccer mentor or modeling your game after another player is that soccer player can be short or tall or slow or fast or skinny or strong. If you’re a player who’s not too big, then you can look at Iniesta or Messi and see that despite their size they still became world class soccer players.

And this is what’s great about the sport of soccer in general: players come in all shapes and sizes, what’s unique is that all top players have excellent touch and skills on the ball. This is the key, if you want to player soccer at a high level then you must spend time with the ball on your own, mastering skills like juggling, dribbling, and shooting.

What’s more, your soccer mentor doesn’t have to be just a world class player. Often, soccer players who reach the highest level of the game, had mentors early on who were brothers or sisters or their Dad or Mom. Or, your soccer mentor might be an older player in your own club team who you look up to and want to play like.

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