Teesta Sisodia-Sullivan September 7, 2019Embed from Getty Images
Lawrie Dudfield (Hull City) is fighting for the ball with Mark Bailey (Lincoln City). (Getty Images)
What inspired you to start Iconz Experience Ltd?
I started Iconz Experience Ltd to try an give young soccer players a real life behind the scenes experience of what soccer is about, instead of the just the commercialized stuff that we see today. Effectively, the tours are based on the 14 year old me and what I would have liked.
You have brought many of your camps to the United States. What do you feel is the largest difference between training here in the US versus training in England?
Without doubt there is quality training here in the USA but in my opinion there is one thing that is lacking across the board here. It is the "tempo" of which the game and training is played. It needs to be a lot quicker, but for whatever reason it is not. An example is that many players here come up to me and say they could do 5 hours of training etc. and I honestly tell them that if that's the case than they are doing it wrong. Nothing should last more than 90 minutes, but at the end of every session they should be breathing uncontrollably from the tempo of play. That is severely lacking here in the USA. A lot of the better players get comfortable and this ends up holding them back.
What do you look for in a player to determine if he might be a good fit for one of your ID camps?
I look for the quality obviously, but most importantly the attitude. Myself, Alan Smith, Mike Edwards, Micky Adams et al will all tell you that we were not the best players on our U14 teams. BUT... we wanted it more than anyone else. We listened and we did whatever we needed to do to make it happen. People think that doing 200 Messi skills means that they are going to make it and that's simply not true. Give me the hardest worker over the best player any day of the week. That's who I want.
What, if any feedback have you received from British coaches regarding US players?
Pretty much everything that I mentioned above has been echoed by the professional British coaches as well. They love playing US teams but they recognize there is a huge gap that needs to be bridged.
You have successfully placed players in foreign teams, what were their biggest strengths?
As discussed above, good quality but mostly a desire to do whatever it takes to succeed. Coaches love working with someone who has a great attitude to learning. Players that think they have already made it are the ones that get held back. I've said it before and I'll say it again, the best player on the team is very rarely the one that will make it as a pro. The one that wants to learn and who is willing to put his body on the line despite not being as good will be the one that is more likely to make it.
Are there any habits or behaviors that you feel are common to better players?
Yes, and the honest answer is that the best players are thick skinned and have an unbelievable will to win. They are confident in their own ability and honestly don't care what anyone else thinks. In the modern game, this is so important.Embed from Getty Images
Lawrie Dudfield (Notts County) scores as Mark Hudson (Crystal Palace) tries to stop the goal. (Getty images)
FIFA has many restrictions regarding minors playing in foreign countries. Are you able to assist with getting players trials in European clubs, regardless of their citizenship?
We try to help whenever possible; however, our tours and camps are more about exposing players to "real soccer" than placing them with teams. There are a lot of people who claim that they can get trials for players, but I don't like to go down that route as a lot of it is fake. I simply expose players to real soccer by allowing them to play against pro team. I'll say to the players, for example I'll ask the Center Midfielder, "Can you be better than their Center Midfielder?" If the player actually is than I guarantee you the pro team will ask directly about the player after the game.
That is how it should be. Clubs should be asking about players, rather than me calling in favors with teams for players to train with them. A lot of times that's just training and not trials. A lot of people in the game trick the American audience and I will never get into that. Exposure and Opportunity is the cornerstone of what we deliver at Iconz.
Are you able to place players into European clubs?
We have links to clubs in Germany and Denmark, but again the player would need to excel against UK clubs. Perhaps then an opportunity might be provided but it would be nothing to do with us directly. It would simply be a recommendation.
What advice would you give a young player who wants to play professionally?
Exactly what I addressed above. Remember, it's a marathon, not a sprint. At 13, I was a sub for my local team. Nobody thought I was good enough but I was the one that made it, no one else from my team did. I loved soccer and I would not have taken no for an answer. If someone had told me that I would only be a professional if I could find a way to get to the moon and be back then I would have found a way to do it, such was my desire to be a pro soccer player. Money, Cars, Lifestyle NEVER EVER came into it for one second. I was as happy on $50 a week at 16 as i ever was in my career. The money was really just a nice bonus. For me, soccer was everything. One problem I see with soccer today is that there are a lot of people just getting into it for the wrong reasons.
ICONZ Experience Ltd. was founded by Lawrie Dudfield after he retired from playing professionally. Today, he is joined with Alan Smith (ex-Leeds United, Manchester United and England), Micky Adams (former Leicester City and Brighton EPL Manager) and Mike Edwards (former Hul City and Notts County) in running the Iconz group. Iconz offers UK Soccer tours, EPL camps and clinics, Pro team tours and one-on-one training sessions. I can speak from personal experience when I say that this group is a class act.
Return to Home Page
Feb 23, 21 07:21 PM
Young athletes need to fail in order to learn resilience. We can't baby them and expect them to succeed, in life or in soccer.
Jan 30, 21 10:35 PM
France,like most European countries, relies on the system of relegation and promotion between its football teams to determine movement.
Jan 30, 21 10:03 PM
German football structure allows for relegation and promotion between their different leagues.