In connection with Norway Cup, I’m writing a few blog posts about how I got to where I am and how I live as a professional football player. Today it will be about focus and what I have focused on over the years from when I played for Norild in Vadsø until now where I play for Blackburn Rovers in the Premier League and the Norwegian national team. One of the key factors in my childhood was my father Ernst Pedersen. He had played in the top league in Norway and knew what it took to get there. So he gave me good advice on what I should do all the time. But it does not help with good advice if you are not prepared to do the job that is needed to reach the goal, and it’s only hard work that counts. That is, you do what ever it takes to be well prepared for training and that you take every training session seriously. And that you do your best no matter how boring you think the exercise is, and that you always try to be the best in all exercises. And if you’re not the best, practice until you are the best.
There were many good players on my age when I was 13-15 years old, and there were several players in Finnmark which could have gone far in their football career. But I feel that many of them couldn’t handle to be among the best football players in their age group. For example I learned early that football is a team game and that you are never better than the weakest link, therefore I was never mad or dissapointed at my team mates who perhaps were not so good, but instead I worked extra hard to play so they got better. It gave me valuable insight and an eye for the game that certainly has helped to shape me as a football player. It helps very little to be technically gifted, if you does wrong choices and then gets mad at other players that may not be as good technically. To get better you have to work hard to play your teammates better.
Alcohol, tobacco and other drugs I have always stayed clear of, and I still do. You will never reach the top if you’re partying all the time. I accept that my friends who are not engaged in professional sports wants to go out occasionally, but it is equally important that they accept that I don’t want to go out, but rather focus on the training on the following day. Those who didn’t accept it is not good friends, and therefore I have removed such “friends” from my circle of close friends. Fortunately, there is never any problem for me and all my friends agree that I will go home when they go to parties. Now I’m 29 years old and sometimes of course I’m having a party in connection with close friend’s birthday or other things that are worth celebrating, but it never happens in the pre season or if we have many games to come. And I’m never really drunk. Actually I have it just as fun or more fun without alcohol and because of my moderation, I have come to where I am today.
Morten Gamst Pedersen