Liverpool legend John Barnes speaks exclusively to Goal about the right mentality for young players to succeedGoal caught up with former England international winger Barnes at Soccerex in Durban. The Liverpool great was one of the most popular players in South Africa during the 80s and his views on the improvement of African football is well respected in the region.
“What we need is young players that are going to be hungry for success. By success I mean the intrinsic motivation, what happens when a player has played in Europe? That desire to strive for more after winning a championship,” Barnes told Goal.
The former Celtic coach and Tranmere manager, Barnes compares his generation of young players to those in England today. His criticism applies to both young African players in the PSL and the English Premier League.
“The greatest players understand that mental training is important. That is what separates the ordinary from the best. We have become so comfortable in rewarding mediocrity,” he said.
“Our young generation is too comfortable; as a result they have closed that gap to grow. Money should not be the motivation, because what happens then when you have the money? Our young generation needs to focus on doing well and money will follow after that, not the other way around,” said Barnes.
The current SuperSport television presenter, Barnes gave similar advice to young Liverpool player Raheem Sterling, who also has Jamaican roots, but is currently finding it testing to solve his off field problems while breaking early into the Reds first team.
Barnes criticism also applies in South Africa when players move from desperately poor conditions to a better lifestyle thanks to professional football. However a comfortable life shouldn't be the main target, as players should strive toward taking their game to the next level from South Africa to European club football.
Before reaping the reward, South Africa still has a long way to go to setup better coaching structures locally. The South African Football Association (Safa) is going to spend a higher budget on developing the countries youth, because slow progress with junior teams is one of the main reasons Bafana Bafana is falling behind Africa's best international sides.
Read our exclusive interview with South Africa and Leeds United legend Lucas Radebe about his hopes for the 'new' Safa to improve youth development here
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