Raheem Sterling and Ross Barkley. Suspend the ordinary world for a few minutes and climb into a make believe time machine. Dial in a date 20 years from now. Your career is over. The crowds have gone. There is a silence you’ve not heard for many years. Now use your imagination to look back over an incredible career. This is what I hope you see.

You ached for the Ballon D’or

Raheem and Ross, average was never for you was it. You yearned for excellence, you craved perfection, you ached for the World’s leading football accolade, the Ballon D’or. It wasn’t about the money – that was an inevitable offshoot of success. And it wasn’t about the fame – you knew that was the show beside the rollercoaster ride. To be the best in the world. To be unequaled in your field. Those were the things that lit the flame. Your external motivators drove your internal fire.

You Saw Mastery and Strode Towards it

Raheem and Ross, you disciplined your mind to home in on the goal of being the world’s best. That required mastery didn’t it – you had to master your position. You had to master football. Movement, positioning, awareness, space, timing…these became your measurements for success as you rode the wave of expectation that surrounded your game. You wanted to here “Wow” in every game.

Your covet of mastery helped you to stretch your comfort zone in every training session. You focused better. You wired your brain quicker than everyone else. You added to your natural in-born ability by being a better practicer than others just as talented as you.

You didn’t settle for the status quo. In fact, like all champions you suspended your automatic processes. Your broke your game down into components and you strove to be the best you could be in each and every area of the game. You never settled did you!

You Left No Stone Unturned

Raheem and Ross, you knew that mastery required no stone left unturned didn’t you. I saw you both doing the things others were unwilling to do. I saw you in the gym. I saw you with your personal skills coach practicing the movement that scored all those goals. I saw you eat the right food. I saw you with that sport psychologist. I saw you with your yoga teacher. At times I didn’t see you because you were in bed so early – you were busy dreaming of incredible football!

I loved the balance you had in life. You knew when to switch on and focus, you knew when to turn down the volume of desire and rest. This is a tough balance to get, but you achieved it through constant experimentation. “How can I be at my best come match day?” became your improvement mantra.

You listened, looked and learned

Raheem and Ross, you woke up and saw the perfect picture float through your mind – an image of incredible football. You made it big and bold and bright didn’t you. Your passion helped that image inside your mind come alive.

You listened to your coaches intently. You learned everyday. You obsessed improvement. You watched your models compete – other players who you believed offered patterns of play that you could borrow – and you developed your game by mirroring their technique. You loved to look and listen and learn.

You had a Confidence Plan

Raheem and Ross, I love the fact that you were different – that’s why you became so good. I love the fact that you refused to believe that confidence was something magical and mystical and written in the stars. You had a confidence plan.

Your plan helped you grow. You knew where your sources of confidence lay. You knew what to reflect upon to feel better. You built the soccer image you house of yourself in your mind daily. And you knew what to imagine or dream about if you felt down. You understood your pick-me-ups!

This was Your Footballing Life

Raheem and Ross, there were so many things you did everyday, so many habits and patterns, that helped you win the Ballon D’or. And you did it. Firstly you Raheem and then you Ross. You became the best on the planet. You became immortal.

You can look back satisfied now. All the sacrifice was worth it. There are millions who dream of being like you. And they have a wonderful template for success. You have left the small clues behind. You have changed British football forever.