My name is Max Eppel and I am a soccer Players’ Agent. I qualified as a lawyer in England in 2002 and practised mainly civil/commercial law until 2006 when I decided to give something back to the sport I love, soccer. I took my Players’ Agents exams at The Football Association in England and examined the opportunity arising in the USA with the increasingly mature Major League Soccer. Having completed my due diligence I decided to relocate to California and open my business in an effort to assist in the growth and development of the game here.
I am the Founder/Manager of Max Eppel Soccer Agency LLC, based in Newport Beach CA. We are a full-service Agency and for more information please visit us at www.maxeppelsocceragency.com.
When Matthew Allinson of AccessAthletes approached me about becoming a Guest Contributor for The Real Athlete Blog I was delighted to be able to share my experience with the readers. We discussed a number of possibilities and settled upon the present topic – The Should’s & Should Not’s for a Soccer Player in his Formative Years. This article will form the first of a series, charting the career development of a soccer player and the interaction between player and Agent as it grows.
The target audience for this first article is both the young players up to the ages of 10 to 12 and those just beyond that stage in their mid-to-late teens and early 20’s.
For players up to 10 and 11, I would suggest that the main focus should be education and recreation. Make sure you focus on your studies and play the game for fun. I am certainly not saying give it up and pursue it as a past-time, but relish the youthful exuberance inherent in playing small-sided games, practise your skills, try dribbling with your weaker foot, play out of your favoured position and generally make the most of the pure fun of playing for playing’s sake because it can get all too serious and all too soon.
The reason I am a strong advocate of continuing with one’s education is because so few young players actually make it in soccer (rather like in most professional sports). The worst thing that can happen to a player is if he neglects his education in pursuit of a career in soccer, only to be cast aside as so often happens and realise that he has nothing upon which to fall back. Most professional playing careers are short; lasting from 16 at the earliest to the mid-30’s at the latest. And those are the lucky ones who actually make it. The risks inherent in disregarding one’s education, which should always be at the centre of one’s formative years, on the basis of a speculative career in soccer which then proves unfounded, are serious indeed.
For those players in their early to mid-teens who have decided to pursue the career, have taken advice from their parents, coaches, teachers, and perhaps even an Agent, there is still plenty to do to ensure both the career and life away from soccer is managed correctly. A good Agent can be of immense help here; equally, advice from an Agent can be misguided, misinterpreted or just plain wrong. In my opinion, well before a player enters the process of selecting an Agent, comes 3 stages:
- Ensuring that this is really what you, the player, want to do. Do not be swayed by the opinions of parents, friends, what you see on TV or anything else. A career in soccer means dedication, focus, concentration and giving up certain elements of your lifestyle you may cherish.
- Get in shape and remain in shape. Athletes these days are running faster, training harder, growing bigger and every little percentile helps in getting the edge over the opponents. Remember, it’s far easier to get fit at an early age and stay that way than it is to play catch-up later on.
- Get into good lifestyle habits. If you look and act like a soccer player from an early age, meaning training well, following your coaches’ directions, eating healthily, not getting distracted by the things most people in their teens and early 20’s lose focus on, then you will reap the benefits in your career.
What happens next is a combination of many factors coming together. You may or may not wish to engage the services of an Agent. The pros and cons are varied, but a good Agent will be able to work diligently on your behalf, freeing you up to focus on playing and training. My job is to take care of the business side of your career. Yours is to stay fit, train hard and ensure that when the opportunity comes along for you to shine and progress your career, that you’re in the best possible shape to grasp it firmly.
In the next article, I will be explaining exactly what takes place once the player/Agent relationship has been cemented via the Representation Agreement and what usually takes place following that document’s execution.
Players’ Agent Licensed by The FA