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Soccer’s best rags to riches stories

Like all sports, the game of soccer carries with it an immense power to uplift young players, providing them with an outlet for their stress and a path to success through troubled times. Because of its massive global appeal, soccer has actualized the dreams of fame and glory held by poverty stricken youth in ways other sports can not manage.

In the United States, players like Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose exemplify the famed ‘hoop dreams’ motif common in American popular culture. However, as one moves around the globe, the same rags to riches glory achieved by these basketball players becomes more liberally witnessed in the beautiful game of soccer.

From the highest Peruvian mountain top communities to the crowded slums of Sao Paulo to refugee communities in Cameroon and beyond one commonality holds true across all struggling youth. Each child yearns for salvation with a ball at their feet.

With many amazing success stories coming from the least likely places, soccer has proven its ability to love those that never stop loving the game, no matter what stands in their way.

One such phenomenal tale of success rose from the coffee plantations of Brazil to become one of the best defenders to don a Real Madrid uniform. Roberto Carlos, considered one of the most offensively potent left backs in soccer history, gained his immense willpower and strength by being forced to work at age twelve to support his family. He found employment at a textile factory called Torsao Cardeiro, unknowingly building his body for success in sports by lifting heavy equipment before eventually joining a small local soccer club called Uniao Sao Joao.

Carlos soon rose to fame with the might of his shot power which measured as fast as 105 mph. As he climbed the international soccer totem poll, Carlos soon landed with Real Madrid, punching in 71 goals over a remarkable 11 year career. An inspiration to youth players everywhere, his coach, Vicente del Bosque, claimed, “Roberto Carlos can cover the entire [left] wing all on his own.”

Another fate-defying success story comes in the form Victor Moses, currently a winger for Spartak Moscow on loan from Chelsea. At age eleven, Moses was forced to flee from his home in Nigeria following the war-induced murder of both of his parents. Moses learned of this terrible tragedy while in the street playing soccer, and sought asylum in England after learning he was the next target. From his beginnings as a barefooted street player, Moses grew into a storied athlete with a fruitful career.

After leaving his native Nigeria in destitution, he returned with glory in 2012 to join the national team of the country that had forsaken him. In his international career, he helped Nigeria claim the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations and appeared with them at the 2014 and 2018 FIFA World Cup tournaments.

Of course, while soccer supplants basketball in its ability to elevate determined young athletes to realize their greatest dreams internationally, such soccer stories can still be found in the US where basketball reigns supreme. Former DC United striker, Eddie Johnson is a prime example of the power of soccer to make American inner-city dreams come true. Johnson himself admits that most children in his poor Florida community look to basketball as their way out of poverty, saying, “In the inner city we all want to be Michael Jordan.”

Despite the allure and popularity of the ‘hoop dream’ in his community, Johnson was drawn to soccer while at summer camp. With the support of his friends he was able to soon join a travel soccer team and the rest is history. In 202 games played in the MLS, Johnson lit up the scoreboard with 71 goals over 11 seasons. He also played for the US Men’s National Team from 2004–2014, and was granted a spot on the U.S. squad for the 2006 FIFA World Cup.

Johnson was powered to success by his mother who, unlike many parents in his community, kept him on a straight path as a kid in school and on the field. Like those that came before him and those that will follow after him, Johnson never gave up on his soccer dreams and was rewarded for his determination against all odds.

Playform was founded with the vision to level the playing field and provide young soccer players a real chance to maximize their potential and achieve their dreams. Our dream is to provide every young athlete dreaming of soccer glory with the power of elite level technology, which, until now was available only to professional players and top tier clubs. Our revolutionary app allows every soccer player to be able to measure their performance and improve their skills whether they are playing on concrete streets with makeshift goals or a well manicured field of the neighborhood football club. Our passion guides us to find the next success stories in every corner of the soccer world.

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