Goal teams up with Gatorade for a new series examining the component parts of the unreal journey from talented hopeful to elite player. First up is the family.
When Philipp Lahm lifted the World Cup at the Maracana, the smiles plastered across the faces of the Germany squad revealed the intense joy experienced by players who had fulfilled the dreams of millions.
Those expressions will have been replicated in the family homes of each player in recognition of the sacrifices made by the support network.
Behind every World Cup winner there are countless people who have helped to put the building blocks in place for professional careers to begin and eventually thrive.
Brazil midfielder Paulinho is one World Cup star who readily admits that his grounding as a youngster went a long way to making him the player he is today.
“I started to play football when I was five years old and my inspiration was my family. My brother and my mother really inspired me to achieve something,” Paulinho told Goal at a Gatorade event in London.
“I had difficulties throughout my life. The most poignant moments were when I wanted to go to training but didn’t have the financial means to go. I knew the difficulties my family were going through, and when you are in that situation you get easily motivated.”
Former England defender Martin Keown also cites his parents as huge factors in his development as a footballer.
“They took me every week and were really supportive,” said the former Arsenal star. “My dad recognized that there was a talent there and he made sure that it was going to come out. He saw that it was a great opportunity. Even from a young age he was never really satisfied with my performance, he always wanted more.
“That gave me that work ethic, drive and determination to first of all prove to my parents that I was good enough and then of course to the scouts that eventually came to watch me play.”
Coaches have the same driving forces behind them, and one man who knows how Joachim Low would have been feeling on that magical night in Rio de Janeiro is Carlos Alberto Parreira.
The Brazilian, who led his country’s national side to glory 20 years ago, admits that his dedication to succeed – while inspired by those around him – came as a shock to his family.
“It was a surprise to people when I decided to go into physical education at university because in those days in Brazil people wanted their sons to be a doctor, a lawyer or an economist,” said Parreira.
“When I said I was going into physical education, everybody was disappointed. But it was my dream, and I am still happy that I followed it.”
Find out more about the fuel of football and how Gatorade fuels the unreal experiences of players at www.gatoradefootball.com or www.gssiweb.org. #BeUnreal