Like any sport, football has the power to inspire millions.
Whether it be on or off the pitch, players or fans or managers, the beautiful game continues to create moments that live on long in the memory while also giving birth to the next generation.
But who are the personalities that really make a difference in the game?
Here we look at some of football’s most inspirational people:
1 – Pep GuardiolaEmbed from Getty Images
It’s difficult to find a manager more revered than the Spaniard. In his spells with Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester City, Guardiola has earned a reputation for playing beautiful football that gets results. But there’s more to Pep than that. His English may be slightly broken at times, but he gets his point across clearly to both his players and the wider football world. And for aspiring coaches, there’s no better example to follow than Guardiola’s.
This quote sums up exactly what Pep is looking to achieve in the game, per awakenthegreatnesswithin.com: “Our job is to convince guys that our way is the best way to cross the road. The tactics and training and facilities are important, but I still have to convince you.”
In terms of current managers, there is no one more inspirational than Guardiola.
2 – Jamie VardyEmbed from Getty Images
Some may be surprised to move from Guardiola to Vardy, but his impact on the game and those around can’t be underrated. The Leicester City striker is inspirational for the way he’s battled to become one of the Premier League’s best strikers.
It was only in 2012 – at the age of 23 – that Vardy played his first English Championship game upon signing for Leicester. Previously, he’d turned out for Halifax and Fleetwood Town in Non-League football. But he wasted no time in making an impact at Leicester and played a significant role as they were promoted to the Premier League in 2014 and then won it in 2016. On top of all that, he became an England international and will go down as Leicester’s best ever striker too.
If that isn’t inspirational, we don’t know what is.
3 – Andy RobertsonEmbed from Getty Images
Much like Vardy, it’s been an unconventional rise to the top for Robertson. The Liverpool full-back may be one of Europe’s best, consistently performing at the top level in the Premier League and Champions League. But that wasn’t always the case.
Robertson was released by Celtic as a youngster and went on to get his first team chance at Queen’s Park in Scotland’s Third Division in 2012. Fast forward six years and, after short spells with Dundee United and Hull before getting his big move to Anfield, he’s lifting the Champions League and captaining Scotland.
At 26, he’s still got the potential to do so much more – and that could see him move on from Liverpool at some point and show his skills on the continent. Not bad for a boy from Glasgow.
4 – Marcelo BielsaEmbed from Getty Images
Guardiola is arguably the most influential manager in football, but who inspires him? That’s none other than Bielsa.
The Leeds United manager has made a big impact on English football since arriving in the country two years ago. He already had a big reputation from spells with Bilbao, Marseille, Lazio and Lille as well as the Chile national team.
But it’s not necessarily what he achieved with those teams that’s inspiring – it’s how he works. Guardiola said it best with this, which could sit alongside other inspiring sports quotes: “He [Bielsa] is an incredible person. He is so special. It is my personal opinion but it will be incredible for English football to have him in the Premier League next season.”
When someone like Guardiola says that about you, it must mean you’re doing something right.
And the work of Bielsa to get Leeds promoted to the Premier League and then look like they’ll consolidate their place there shows exactly why he’s so highly rated by Guardiola and many others.
5 – Johan CruyffEmbed from Getty Images
Is there a sporting icon who has left more of a legacy on that sport than Johan Cruyff?
The former Dutch player and manager sadly passed away in March of 2016 after a battle with cancer, sparking worldwide tributes for what he did in football.
And you’ll struggle to find a manager who wasn’t influenced by Cruyff or a player unaware of the impact the former Ajax and Barcelona man had on the game.
His vision inspired Barcelona to become one of football’s most entertaining and successful clubs, with Guardiola, again, very vocal about what Cruyff did to help him bring trophies and a memorable brand of football to the club.
Cruyff also leaves behind numerous quotes which show his view for football was one of a kind. But perhaps this will his longest lasting, per pastemagazine.com:
“Playing football is very simple, but playing simple football is the hardest thing there is.”
That’s just one of many inspirational Cruyff quotes, but should stand the test of time for aspiring players and coaches.