Height: 179cm (5'10")
Weight: 76 kg (168 pounds)
Citizenship: (EU) England/United Kingdom, Australia, Japanese (possible)
Positions: Right Winger / Right Fullback
Best Skills: Speed, Shooting, Ball Control
40-yard sprint = 4.26 seconds
Vertical Standing jump = 60 cm
1000m = 3.26 minutes
Woden Valley FC (Australia)
Canberra FC (Australia)
Buda Juniors IFC (Hungary)
2010 - 2011 Hegyvidék SE (Hungary)
2012 - 2012 Woden Valley FC (Australia)
2012 - 2014 JOS Watergraafsmeer (Netherlands)
2015 - 2015 FC Oberwinterthur (Switzerland)
2016 - 2017 SV Hönng (Switzerland)
2018 - 200x Effective FC (England)
Professional Trial Experience
2010 - A.F.C. Wimbledon U/19
2010 - Special Invite - U/20 FIFA World Cup Team Australia (at age 17)
2011 - Kazincbarcikai (1st team) - 2nd Division Hungarian National League
2011 - Montrose FC U/19 - Scottish Second Division
2012 - FC Volendam (Dutch 1st Division)
I had about two years left of high school as the son of an expat living in Europe. Moving to Budapest as a teenager was a huge cultural insight. Everything was different from what I was used to down under in Australia, from the people to the food and the snow falling in winter. But what captured my attention most was how crazy Europeans were about their soccer.
Personally, I really loved playing and watching matches, but that was it. I was just an average player that grew up playing for the local teams in my neighbourhood and at school. Many kids dream of playing professionally in Europe, but the thought of doing that never really crossed my mind. I had no reason to believe I could. I never represented any national teams or my county for that matter back home.
One day my life all changed. I picked up a self-help book called 'The Magic of Thinking Big'. The author talked about how to make your dreams a reality. I guess at that time, I always dismissed any thought of playing at a higher level than I was. But from reading that book, I learnt that theoretically you could achieve your dreams with belief, hard work and persistence.
If there is one thing I love about soccer, it's the passion. There's nothing more exhilarating for me than hearing the chants and roars of supporters in a stadium packed with tens of thousands of people. In my free time, I would always be looking up YouTube video's of these electric atmosphere's. Liverpool fans singing "You Never Walk Alone" for example. I don't know why, but sometimes I would literally get tears in my eyes from just watching them and still do.
I thought to myself "Nick, imagine if you were a professional footballer, walking out of the tunnel to a packed stadium. Imagine scoring a goal and celebrating with thousands of your home fans." - I'd never been more excited in my life about the possibilities. So in 2009 at age 16, I decided I would go for my dreams and set out to become a professional footballer, the same time I began documenting the experience on this very blog.
The Nick Humphries then had
But most importantly above all: Desire and Belief.
The next six months I worked harder than I ever did with football and over time my game improved.
To get to a higher level you need connections. So I decided to email dozens of professional clubs in England. I got one reply from AFC Wimbledon based in London, which back then were in the 5th tier of English soccer. The coach said I could train with them, so I flew over to England. I trained with their U17's and I was told I wasn't good enough after two or three sessions.
I brushed that experience off my shoulders, went back home, kept training with the goal of improving.
After my experience in London, I came across a book called Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. In this book he says that it takes roughly ten thousand hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field. So after reading that line, I literally doubled/tripled my training schedule so that I was training at least 20 hours a week. At least 12 of these hours each week we're spent grudgingly down at the local field with just my boots and a ball. In the snow, wind, rain, sunshine it didn't matter, and I would set out to complete these 20 hours every single week. If I didn't, I would punish myself with more hours! It took some really hard self discipline (and still does!). I remember one week I was on summer holiday's with family in France. I was lazy the week before, so I forced myself to do 40 hours of training that week (by myself may I add) with most of it done on an old concrete basketball court in the resort, hidden around the corner from the beach and beautiful girls.
But the hard work finally started to show signs of paying off.
I attended a few training camps over that summer and met a few players who were on athletic scholarships at US colleges. I thought "Hey, if they can do it, why shouldn't I give this a a shot?" So I took the SAT, made a highlight video and used a service to send the video to coaches in the US. A few weeks later, I received $100,000+ in scholarship offers. Unfortunately, none were really in a league or location I wanted to play in so I declined those offers and stayed in Europe.
By December of that year, I was invited to train with the U/17 Australian national team who were preparing for the World Cup. Might I add, I wasn't "invited" - I was just lucky that their training base was in my hometown, and my bullshit email to ask if I could "continue my professional training regime" was one of the few which were read and replied to.
That was an amazing opportunity for me. Training in an full-time environment where the pitch was perfect, kits were laid out nicely and the balls used were the best you could get. That was motivation, but sadly after two trainings, the coach thought I was nowhere near a standard to compete.
When you don't make the team, most people give up. I failed an amazing amount of times while I've been in this period of trying to "make it". But each time I was unsuccessful with a trial, I didn't get my head down, I just took it as an opportunity to get "feedback".
I always ask the coach what I could of done better and need to improve. Whether it's faster decision making, or strength, etc - after each trial I've always taken their "feedback" into consideration and acted upon it. This Kaizen method of constantly reviewing what I can improve each week, is what was/is slowly making me a very good player.
Fast forward, and It was July 2011, the month of my 18th birthday. Out of the 100's of people I was trying to make as valuable connections in the past, I now had a few stable contacts that wanted to help out.
My fourth trial, one of these contacts arranged training with the U19's of Vasas SC - a famous Hungarian club that plays in the 1st division. I played well, but I was unsuccessful.
Then, another guy arranged a trial in Hungary with a team called Kazincbarcika SC. They wanted to look at me for the senior squad. I was scared shitless because there were some players there who had played for their respective senior national teams. There was a guy who would have trained alongside Samuel Eto'o (at one point, the world's highest paid player) for example. I trained nervously, but well enough so I could play in an friendly match they organised. I had one of the best games of my life. I played 90 minutes, scored a goal and created a good chances for other players. This was my moment. I was one of the best players on the pitch in a professional level match.
After that game, the club offered me a senior team contract, but not under the conditions that would have put me in a safe position. Still, that was a shining moment for me. Just two years prior I was nothing. Now I was worth something in football.
Long story short, 14 months later today I live in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Most recently, I had a six week trial with FC Volendam, a Dutch outfit. I was training with their reserve team who play in a league with some of the best teams in the country and in the world for that matter (Ajax, AZ Alkmaar, etc). Again, I failed to make it in their squad. But my performance was very positive. I asked the coach what I should improve. I'm usually accustomed to hearing a list of things I should improve from coaches. But this time I hear one thing from the coach: Strength.
Once I improve that, my weaknesses are all but gone. It's only up from here :)
Just waiting (and searching) for the next opportunity to arise..
I want my story to mean something to all of you reading this. I was not born with special abilities or talent. I was not given the best coaching. I was never the best athlete out there. I am not some sort of special human being from Mars.
You can achieve ANYTHING you want in life through hard work, never ever, ever, ever giving up and matching all of that with belief.
It's also about working smart too. Your hard work needs to be directed in the right places. Making connections is one example. Someone who can mentor you is priceless.
I apply the same philosophy to my business startups as well, not just soccer.
Seriously, from one friend to another, you can make your dreams become reality. Trust me! You can do it! And I know that sounds so cliche, but greatness is not some illusion that only a special few among us can achieve.
Maybe I've made it easier than it sounds here in this post. It's all about staying focused and on track. But there have been many times where I've thought if it's even worth it to continue going. Many people saying I'm not good enough, even laughing at me sometimes. Times where I've cried. Overcoming pain, fear and anxiety.
The last three years of this sporting journey have ultimately been a journey that has taught me so much about life. But that moment when I rip a ball in the back of the net and celebrate to the roar of tens of thousands of people will be the moment when I know that it was all worth it.
So, what's your defining moment?
Written in August 2012 (revised in February 2018)
Email: nick [at] nickhumph [dot] net