With one eye on their dreams of becoming a famous soccer player many kids have asked themselves, ‘What is the easiest position in Soccer?’
A great clue to discovering the easiest position to master is to go back to the grass roots of the game and watch any kickabout in the park between a bunch of kids.
Kids have a great way of putting themselves into a hierarchy automatically when it comes to soccer and for every kid who looks like the next Ronaldo zipping the ball past the other kids at lightening speed and scoring goals, there is always one poor kid who’s been made to stand in goal because they’re not very good.
This must make Goalkeeper the easiest position to play right? Well, let’s try to back that statement up for a moment. It’s certainly true to say a goalkeeper requires a different skill set to playing in an outfield position.
There are some examples of goalkeepers who play in big games who look just like they've been told to stand there because they can't do anything else!
For instance in 2017 Arsenal played an FA Cup game against a team with a goalkeeper called Wayne Shaw who weighs 320lbs! Before the game, legendary Arsenal striker Ian Wright put him through his paces to test him. You can see how Wayne did here:
If he can be a goalkeeper then surely it must be the easiest position to play!
Everyone else has to run! Well, whilst kids in the park might want to put the one kid who can't run in goal and forget it, most top teams class their goalkeeper as the most important position on the team.
The great English Manager Brian Clough won the European Cup (forerunner to Champions League) twice with an average team but an exceptional goalkeeper in Peter Shilton.
He said, “Shilton gave everyone confidence. It spread through the side … The defenders felt safer, and the forwards thought if we could nick a goal, there was more than an evens chance the opposition wouldn’t score. Shilton was the most important player in the team.”
So if the goalkeeper is the most important person in the team it follows that it can’t be the easiest position to play right?
Well, what about playing defense? That looks easy enough. All you need to do is stand in the way!
But is that ignoring the true art of defending? Something that is crucial to the success of any team. Just as any soccer team values the contribution of their goalkeeper, they do the same with defenders.
The rules of soccer are that you start every game with a 0-0 tie. If you don't concede a goal, the worst you can do is keep your 0-0 tie. That brings with it a pressure to defend your goal in the right way which is itself a difficult skill.
Look at some of the great defenders in history and you’ll discover just how good they were at 'reading the game', knowing where and how to position their body at any given moment to stop the attacker.
One of the best of all time was Italian defender Franco Baresi who really did turn defending into an artform. It’s impossible to watch him tackling, blocking, heading and defending in this showreel and think, “That look easy!”
So what about playing in midfield is that the easiest position? Midfielders get by doing a bit of attacking and a bit of defending so are they ‘Jack of all trades and master of none’? Does this make midfield the easiest position in soccer?
Well apart from the fact that some of the most skillful soccer players in history have been midfielders, for instance Argentina's captain Diego Maradona, midfielders do of course have to work harder than anyone else because in order to do their share of defending and attacking they have to run from one end of the pitch to the other!
N'Golo Kanté from Chelsea FC has incredible running statistics in the English Premier League. Every game he covers a distance of approximately 8 miles at high speed meaning he has to be in great physical shape. So taking that into consideration it would be wrong to say that midfield is the easiest position to play.
So that just leaves strikers and everyone knows all the skill in soccer is involved in getting the ball in the goal, right? Surely that can't be the easiest place to play on a soccer pitch? Well strikers don't have to run around quite as much as some of the other positions although they do carry all the pressure of scoring goals.
Sometimes that pressure gets a bit too much for them though, like here:
But even accounting for the times it goes wrong, not many people would argue playing as a striker is easy.
So we've gone right through the soccer field and we are no closer to discovering what the easiest position to play is.
Wait a minute, there’s one position where you don't have to think very much or run too far. Surely being substitute HAS to be the easiest position in soccer.
All you have to do is warm-up and get yourself onto the pitch everybody in the world could do that? Well you would think so but watch this video from 5.30 to see that sometimes even the simplest things don't come easily to soccer players
So with evidence for and against a number of different positions it's time to make your mind up as to what is the easiest position to play on a soccer field.
I'm going to suggest left back in defense.
This is because there are many fewer left-footed players so there is less competition for that position and you often find that Head Coaches have other priorities when they’re looking to improve the team so you get cut more slack!
So you've heard a lot from me, let us know in the comments below what your views are.