In the late spring of 1978 I played against a tall, skinny, carrot-topped central defender in the semi-final of the Under 16 Scottish Cup. Clarkston Amateurs were my team and we were ready for the biggest game of our young lives.
Barrowfield in Glasgow's east end was the venue. Our opponents were Celtic Boys Club. We were beaten 9-0. It was a shock, since that was something we did to other teams. I have no recollection of kicking the ball in the hour and a half I ran about in the shadow of the big ginger, watched by new Celtic manager Billy McNeil and other football royalty. (I can assure you he was not watching me.)
The lanky lad who effortlessly took possession of the ball every time it came my way was David Moyes. Soon he was in the big team, though not for long. His playing career at Celtic was not illustrious. Maybe that relative failure made him reflect, because Moyes decided early on to plan his career in football management, doing his coaching badges when his team-mates were paying daft money for big blond hair.
(You know you have made it when "David" is typed into Google and Moyes comes before Bowie, Beckham and Tennant.)
I bet you there are a few ex-footballers out there who- starting at the top with Celtic or the like- lost heart as they hurtled down the divisions to Dunfermline Athletic or Shrewsbury Town or Cambridge United or Preston North End. Maybe now they are driving a cab or looking for another job in financial services. Not Moyes: he had plans for himself.
Want to copy him? Here is the blueprint: find something you love to do, and that you do well (at least better than the average bear). Then work your cojones off and be the best you can be. Everything else takes care of itself. Sir Alex Ferguson is a big fan of hard work and having the right attitude. One of my favourite Fergie quotes is, "If there's any doubt, there's no doubt...". In other words, if he doubts a player's character, it's over.
Moyes started his journey to Old Trafford about 30 years ago. Do you imagine he is now sitting with his feet on the furniture thinking he's made it? Not when there are Championships to be won, Cups to be held aloft, Europe to be conquered.
What is inspirational about the Fergusons and Moyes is how ordinary they appear, even though evidence suggests they are far from that. And how often, when asked to define their success so we might bottle it and have it for ourselves, they say much of it comes down to hard work. A manager who wore a track suit during the week, Sir Alex was first to arrive at training and last to leave: David Moyes is cut from the same cloth.
Few are talented enough to get where these two are, but there is nothing to stop us putting the hours in at something we love. I think it was Socrates (the philosopher, not the chain-smoking Brazilian midfielder) who said if you find something you love you never work a day in your life. If you find such a thing, then go for it, what's the worst that could happen?
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about the author
Russell Wardrop is our Chief Executive. If you would like to know more about this subject, drop him an email and we will be in touch.