How to become a… Football agent


The most exciting part of my job is seeing one of my clients develop and grow into a top level performer.

I will never forget seeing Jamie Vardy, who plays for Leicester City, lift the Premier League trophy, break a goal scoring record, win the Premier League and the Football Writers’ Association Player of the Year, and then perform for England in the European Championship following the iconic season back in 2015/16.

It was definitely more glamourous than the times I watched him play in North Ferriby, Mossley and Tamworth!

How did you start out?

I started at the very bottom of the football pyramid, looking at non-league talents as all the top young players and established players already had agents. I found a niche in the market by transferring unwanted players at clubs, and moved goalkeeper Charles Intadje from Liverpool to Atromitos in Greece.

This was my first decent commission; it was £25,000 from Liverpool, which helped me fund my agent activity for the next 12 months.

I won’t lie to you, moving unwanted players that nobody wants can be time-consuming and demoralising, but I had to cut my teeth in the industry and establish a reputation.

On the plus side, it got me my big break – a job offer to work for KeySports Management, one of the most established sports agencies in the UK.

What qualifications does someone need to be a sports agent and how long does it take to get them?

When I first started out you had to pass the FA licensed players agent exam and have insurance to work as an agent.

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Now, you don’t need any formal qualifications to become a football intermediary. You can simply fill out an online application, pay a £500 fee and you are then licensed to be a sports agent in the football industry.

However, the regulations are currently under review by the FA/FIFA and I expect this process to change in the future.

What’s been the ‘wow moment’ of your career?

During my first week at KeySports, all of the agents were gathered for a meeting in our Soho Square office.

I explained that I had signed a nobody non-league striker called Jamie Vardy from Halifax Town but there was something special about him. I first scouted him at Stocksbridge Park Steels, but it was a nightmare trying to get him to pick up his phone, let alone meet me.

Jamie was a loveable rogue in those days, working in a factory, playing non-league football and playing for his local pub team – the Anvil – on the occasional Sunday morning.

After signing him, I told all the other agents that Jamie Vardy would play for England and they all rightfully laughed.

Seeing my prediction come to fruition as he stepped onto the field during his England debut was amazing and gave me a real sense of achievement.

What’s it like working with Jamie Vardy?

Working with Jamie for the best part of a decade has been somewhat surreal at times – he is a phenomenon.

Fortunately my career has been at a similar trajectory to that of Jamie’s and I will be forever thankful to him for that.

We are a good team and I am immensely proud of the footballer and person he is today. To have spotted him and backed him all the way has made the journey and experience that extra bit special.

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Working with Jamie Vardy for the best part of a decade has been somewhat surreal at times – he is a phenomenon (Picture: John Morris)

What does it mean to be a sports agent?

Now, I deal with everything ‘football-related’.

I always attend matches and sometimes follow up with extra data work of my client’s performance and how they compare to other players in the same positions at other clubs.

I want to know everything about my players technically, tactically, physically and mentally because it helps in negotiations, as you know exactly who and what you are negotiating for.

I not only negotiate their playing contracts but also commercial deals such as boot deals, national team sponsorships, autobiographies, film/life rights, TV deals and image rights contracts.

What’s the biggest misconception about being a sports agent?

The words unscrupulous, devious and greedy are often associated with sports agents when mentioned in the media.

However, there is good and bad in every industry and what you don’t see reported are the agents who work tirelessly for their clients and families.

Not only do they secure the best contractual negotiations and commercial deals, but they also manage their careers through the highs and lows, and help them make good decisions both on and off the pitch.

What’s the hardest part of being a sports agent?

You need to be on hand 24 hours a day. The job is relentless and it’s very difficult to switch off.

The demands of working with top level athletes also means you need experts in each individual field to give them the best service.

Who else have you worked with?

I am now one of the proud owners of KeySports.

We’ve got some big names on our roster, such as internationals Joe Gomez, Theo Walcott, Phil Jones and Nathan Ake – but I don’t just represent players.

I’ve recently negotiated back-to-back Premier League manager appointments with Brendan Rodgers – who has joined Leicester City from Celtic – and Graham Potter, who has joined Brighton from Swansea City. Representing top level coaches is something I really enjoy.

I also personally recruited football manager David Wagner and brought him to Huddersfield Town from Borussia Dortmund II.

What is your advice to aspiring sports agents?

You have to have patience and resilience on the job, particularly when building your client base. Don’t expect to gain trust overnight – you have to earn it and deliver what you say you will deliver.

There is no substitute for experience, but unfortunately there is no clear-cut route to becoming a sports agent. Work on the lower levels and sign players who don’t yet have agents, and try to move them.

Work at clubs in talent identification and coaching, or get a job in an ‘unfashionable’ country where there is more opportunity.

Over time, you’ll likely become very close with your clients and their family members. Nevertheless, this should never get in the way of your job, which is to get them the best commercial deal possible.

Are there any special perks to being a sports agent?

I recently returned from Madrid, where I was lucky enough to celebrate with my client Joe Gomez and the Liverpool players, families and staff long into the early hours following their Champions League victory.

I managed to get my hands on the trophy for a picture, but at the expense of no sleep and having to go straight to the airport following the party!



How to become a….

In Metro.co.uk’s new series, we’ll be hearing from people who have the most coveted sports jobs about how they got there, their advice for others and what happens at the centre of the world’s biggest sporting moments.

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