At a young age, Wayne Rooney was playing with much older players who had a physical advantage. However, understanding himself and his opponents helped Rooney to develop his game.
“I think the first real big influence was Colin Harvey [former Everton coach], I went and played for the U19s for Colin when I was 14, and that's really when the tactical part of the game came in.
“He made me realise I was a lot smaller than the U19 players. So, I really had to focus on how I found space and how I don’t have as much physical contact with the opposition because they were too strong for me.”
Click here for more key factors that made Rooney one of the best players to represent The Three Lions.
Avoiding early specialisation can help players develop their all-round skillsets. In Harry Maguire’s case, he took the skills and knowledge from his time in midfield and used them to become a modern-day centre-back.
“I played central midfield really from seven-years-old all the way up till I was probably 16. I always see myself as comfortable on the ball, and it probably helped me back then playing in that position to how I am now – in terms of stepping in and being able to see passes through the lines.
“I'd say it's a big part of why I feel I’m comfortable and composed on the ball.”
Discover what helped Maguire become a key figure for England by clicking here.
Former England star, John Barnes, excited crowds throughout his career as he flew down the wing.
While he’s no longer on the pitch, he still kept us on the edge of our seats when he provided an insight into what it took to become a skilful player.
Click here to see what he had to say when he looked back on what helped him to excel as a winger.
Having the right character is important. Being kind, willing to listen and determined to improve can get you far in life – and it’s the same for football. Letting those qualities shine through, along with his ability, meant Arsenal signed Ashley Cole as a youngster.
“I think they [Arsenal] saw someone that was coachable and saw me as a good kid. I think first and foremost you want nice people in the club. They saw that in me, and then they saw the talent.
“I tried to take on board everything the coaches and players said to me. But of course, they must have seen that raw talent – someone willing to get up and down, not wanting to be beaten 1v1. Someone who can probably get you from A to B in that defensive area, have the speed and agility to beat players in defensive areas, and then have the ability to find passes and score goals.”
To reveal some of the attributes that made Ashley Cole a skilful player for club and country, click here.