How to Become a Football Scout

Do you want to be the person who unearths the next or Percy Tau or Hildah Magaia?

Where does the next Portia Modise or Benni McCarthy come from? What about the next  Refiloe jane or Bongani Zungu?

Identifying the next big thing is the job of a football scout and they have to put in plenty of hours, not to mention cover lots of ground, in pursuit of that goal. Scouts have been utilised by most clubs for decades and, while the industry has been shaken up by modern technology and an increased focus on granular statistics, they remain a vital strand in the fabric of the game.

How do you become a football scout?

There is no specific route into football scouting, but it certainly helps to have had a background in football, either as a player or coach. Such a background not only means that you already possess a basic knowledge of the game, but it means that you are also likely to have cultivated a useful network of contacts. However, you do not need to have been a player or coach in order to become a scout – and networks can be made in time. The Football Business Academy offers football scouting courses – including a range of talent identification and opposition analysis modules – to help hone the skills required to be a scout. Former Liverpool and Tottenham scout Mel Johnson, who advised Tottenham to sign Gareth Bale, says that scouting is “a 24-hour-a-day job” so it requires a serious commitment. “You have to have a very understanding partner – or you have to be single,” Johnson said in an interview with Planet Football. “I am up very early in the morning and I go to bed very late at night, so you have to be constantly dedicated to the job.”

Scouts are usually assigned regions to cover and that could be something as simple as the north of England or something a bit more expansive like the south of Europe. Either way, there is an expectation on scouts to travel distances to cover games and assess players so an ability to drive, while not absolutely essential, definitely helps. As well as having an intimate knowledge of football and understanding the requirements of different positions, modern-day scouts should ideally have an ability to use computers, mobile devices and apps.

Michael Calvin, author of The Nowhere Men, which shines a light on the scouting world, has spoken of the “culture shift” that has occurred, with ‘old school’ scouts competing with ‘new school’ types. “They crunch the numbers. These guys are very well educated, invariably under 30 and they are becoming increasingly influential,” Calvin told the BBC of the newer generation back in 2013.

Talent-spotting in football has indeed evolved since Calvin’s observation, with many clubs opting for a ‘Moneyball’ approach to recruitment, with extensive statistical analyses of players now available. It is something that, understandably, does not sit well with the veteran Johnson, who believes that too much focus on digital assessments is unwise. “If you’re watching a game on a laptop, you can’t see the player on the wide right or wide left because you can’t get a proper view of him,” he told Planet Football.  “It is a fantastic tool, but you have to learn to marry the two because the game isn’t played on a computer.” Nevertheless, the technology is here to stay, with football continuing to evolve. So if you want to be a scout, you better get used to inputting data on an iPad or looking at a laptop screen.

If you still have questions contact the FBA’s Football Scouting course, Student support Team who will be happy to help you at  OR WhatsApp at +27 68 043 9078.