At the end of every season approximately 800 professional footballers are released by their clubs. Some go on to play lower down the leagues, while others have to carve out careers away from football.
Youngsters are the worst affected by the cull. The PFA estimates that 50% of players who are offered pro deals at 16 are out of the game two years later. Three years on and that rate rises to 75%.
More after the break
FFT wasn’t even good enough to get in a position to get released, but we’re still keen to know what the difference is between those who make it and those who don’t.
Romelu Lukaku was one of the lucky ones. He made his debut for Anderlecht aged 16 – he was still at school when he played his first game - and has gone on to play for Chelsea and Everton, while racking up nearly 50 caps for Belgium.
Not bad for a 23-year-old, eh? We decided the striker was the perfect man to reveal the secrets behind making the grade, so we sat down with him to find out exactly what he did to get noticed.
“There are certain things you can do in an academy that you can’t do in the first team,” he told FFT.
“When I got asked to train with the first team [at Anderlecht], they said don’t worry about doing tricks, all you need to do is score goals – and that’s what I did. The next day I got invited back again. And the day after and the day after that.”
Why did no one tell us this when we were 16? Oh well, click play on the video at the top of the page to find out what else Lukaku had to say on his rise to stardom and his advice for youngsters with dreams of footballing stardom.