Jerome Boateng is the latest professional soccer player to roll out a piece in The Players’ Tribune’s “What You Don’t Know About” series, and he’s got some slick words to describe defending the best players in the world.
The key? Smell confident.
“You can’t be lazy or caught on your heels with those players, because they will win and they will score. They are just too good for you to make even a little mistake. More than speed or technique though, as a defender you need confidence. Ronaldo, Messi, Suárez, Neymar — they can all smell if you’re afraid to duel with them. One whiff and then they destroy you. So you gotta show up.
“Confidence is a huge part of my job.”
Read the whole piece for the physical descriptions of what he’s doing, but Boateng reminds us that mental strength is the real key. As much as that probably drives stat nerds — like myself — nuts, there’s an obvious courage and ego to defending. And Boateng has it.