Sitting on the pitch in front of Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, 22 wide-eyed amateur footballers watch intently, hanging on the every word that comes out of Sir Alex’s mouth. This could be their last chance at a dream, so all of those involved are soaking in as much of the moment as they can.
For many, the chance to play professional football came and went quicker than a summer breeze. By the age of 14 or 15, most top talents have already been gobbled up by Premier League clubs. And for most, the chance to play for a Championship side becomes increasingly difficult with each passing year. There comes a time later in life when those dreams of playing professional football slowly die.
Most figure if they aren’t found by the time they’re 17 or 18 that the dream is all but over. The real world comes calling soon after, and watching games on the tele and playing Sunday matches soon fill the void left by the dream of playing the game for a living. The drive to play the game never goes away, mind you; rather it’s just suppressed deep inside, waiting for the moment to come back out.
When Nike’s Most Wanted campaign was announced, footballers from all over the UK and Ireland woke up, dusted their boots off and started practicing. Some considered it a second chance to be seen; for others this was their first shot at being watched by Premier League scouts.
35,000 entrants made the most of the chance to be called Sir Alex Ferguson’s Most Wanted. The entrants were whittled down to a tidy 22 that got the chance to show Ferguson their skills for the chance to fulfill a dream.
If you’ve seen the video’s, then you know the talent has been high quality. Some, if not all, of the final 22 probably have the skills and the drive to play at least Championship or League One football. And yet for some reason their skills were never discovered until now.
The difference between the final entrants and those playing professional football isn’t their difference in skill, but rather their opportunities. Some just never got the lucky breaks that others got. And for a rare few their skills didn’t fully develop until they were a bit older. But Nike’s Most Wanted gave them that second chance.
In a world where second chances are hard to come by, Nike has revolutionized the world of football scouting by giving those with the skills, heart and determination a real shot.
Who knows if one of the final 22 will ever be seen bossing the pitch for Manchester United in the future, but the sheer opportunity to have a chance to showcase your skills is enough to make Nike’s Most Wanted campaign the future of football scouting.