Dean Windass: How to make it pro

The Hull City legend says self-belief, fitness and discipline are essential to forging a career in professional football

NEVER GIVE UP
I was released by Hull City when I was 18. The manager at the time, Brian Horton, told me I was too small and weak. I could’ve given up but my Dad told me it was only the opinion of one person and it was up to me to prove him wrong. My motivation came from that – a desire to show Brian I was good enough. All players need a level of self-belief.
 

 
BE DISCIPLINED
After I left Hull I worked on a building site for 18 months. I was up at 6:30am, started at 7 and worked until 4:30. On a Tuesday and Thursday I trained for a non-league club, North Ferriby United, and then played on a Saturday. I used to like a drink on a Saturday night but you can’t get away with that now. Clubs dig deep into your background to find out about your character and lifestyle, so keep your head down.

More after the break

HIT THE GYM
I was a late developer, but carrying bricks and shifting rubble built up my strength. I still say my big calves came from climbing up and down ladders all day. I also used to run five miles a day after work to make sure I was fitter than everyone else. When you turn professional you need to have the fitness to train hard four or five times a week. If you really want to make it, you need to be physically strong.
 

 
DON'T LOOK BACK
A lot of players join academies when they’re seven or eight-years-old and maybe don’t appreciate the opportunity they’ve been given. Once I’d spent time on a building site I knew I never wanted to go back to that life. I was lucky to get another chance and made sure I grabbed it with both hands. It’s a cliché, but being a footballer is the best job in the world. If you get your break, give it everything you’ve got.
 

 
Dean Windass was talking after launching Fiat’s tradesman trials campaign, which is offering current tradesmen the chance to win a month-long trial at a Football League club.
 
If you think you’ve got what it takes to follow the likes of Windass, Charlie Austin (builder) and Jimmy Bullard (painter and decorator) in swapping their trade for professional football, then you have until June 12th to submit a video of you showcasing your ability at www.tradesmantrials.co.uk.
 
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