5 Lessons from the UEFA Champions League for Your Career

| 11 min read

The UEFA Champions League and Your Career

Football fans and lovers of the round leather game all over the world understand that the UEFA Champions League remains one of the most decorated footballing events across the globe and today, we will examine 5 resounding career lessons from the Champions League that would drive you closer to your career goals.

Before we delve into these lessons, what they are and how they will impact your career, let us take a closer look at the competition and why it stands out as one of the most competitive soccer tournaments in the world.

The Champions League is a very important footballing event; just as important as a job interview is to your career.

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For the record, the UEFA Champions League is an annual continental club football competition organised by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) and contested by top-division European clubs. It should therefore not come as a surprise that the competition features the very best clubs and players across Europe.


Similarly, your career is not one that exists in isolation. There are several important moments (decision-making), documents (CV, Cover Letter and others) and sessions (like interviews) that play very crucial roles in the types of jobs you will be hired for; whether you will be hired or not and whether you will stand out during interviews or perform below par. As you know, you need to have an edge in all facets to be successful.

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Now, we will look at the UEFA Champions League and 5 lessons from the competition for your career.


5 Lessons from the UEFA Champions League

  • Competition will always be there
  • Strive to stand out
  • Teamwork beats talent
  • Always shoot for the best
  • Don’t make silly mistakes
  • You need a secret weapon


Competition Will Always Be There

Every football season, the Champions League begins with 78 or 79 soccer teams but only 32 are officially allowed to make it to the group stage (4 teams per group) of the competition. The same applies to your search for a job or a better one. The recruitment exercise always begins with a lot of candidates who are pruned down on the strength of their CVs, cover letters or application letters as the case may be. In truth, not everyone who applies for a job gets invited for a job interview. Back to the Champions League; not every team that enters the Champions League makes it to the group stage of the competition.

From the group stage, the number of teams are further cut down as only the top two teams from every group make it to the knock-out stage of the Champions League. As a standing rule, only 16 teams make it to the knockout stage of the competition. How does this relate to your career?

From the list of applicants for any role, the number of candidates are cut down using quite a range of yardsticks like their CV, years of experience, qualifications and much more.

You should bear in mind that not all applicants who make it to the interview stage of the recruitment exercise get hired. Same applies yet again to the Champions League; not all teams that make it to the knock-out stage make it to the finals. At that stage, the competition remains as fiercely contested as your job interview. Quite a number of job interviews now have stages; we have written interviews and even oral interviews, which are used in further assessment of the candidates. Companies go for the very best and just like the Champions League, only the very best teams stand the chance to win the cup.

The lesson here is that you must always remember that in your career, there will be competition and you have to prioritise the task of remaining at the very top of the competition.


Strive to stand out

In the Champions League, there are weak teams and there are strong teams. In the match between Bayern Munich and FC Rostov, one of the teams was strong while the other was weak. The game ended 5-0 in favour of Bayern Munich and the question of which team was stronger already answers itself. In your career, there will be strong candidates and weak candidates. If you are to land the best jobs available, you must develop yourself to a point where you are considered a formidable applicant in the estimation of your prospective employer. How do you achieve this? Your CV, qualifications and experience are the things that will speak for you before you even get invited for an interview.

You should, therefore, endeavour to register for relevant courses and understand how to write a cover letter. Take a look at a free sample. These courses and trainings strengthen the spine of your career as they prepare you to make the best of opportunities as they present themselves.

Like we mentioned earlier, you must strive to stand out and the lesson from the Champions League is that failure to stand out leaves you losing out on opportunities to advance your career. In the case of FC Rostov, which we mentioned earlier, they were presented with an opportunity to defeat Bayern Munich by being drawn in the same group with the German champions but the teams lacked the ability and will to make the best of this opportunity as made manifest in their 5-0 thrashing.


Team work beats talent

The game of football and tennis might be similar in the sense that they are both sports but they are different sports and the philosophy of the games are not the same. While a tennis player is individually saddled with the responsibility of defeating the opposition, the same does not apply to football where each player has 10 teammates to work with if the game is to be won. In tennis, a single player can rely on his abilities and skills to win a Grand Slam but in the UEFA Champions League, each player is nested within a team of 11 players.

In the course of your career, you will not work in isolation within an organisation. You will have colleagues, managers and bosses whom you would be expected to work with to achieve clearly spelt out goals. For example, if you are hired as a graphic artiste in an organisation, you would most likely work within the marketing unit of the organisation and will find yourself working with several other departments on the company’s products and services. While you might be very good with designs and colours, you still need a content writer to develop designs. You need figures and partnership leads from colleagues within the marketing unit to have materials to work with. Also, as your career progresses, you will establish a steady growth of professional connections whose value will prove invaluable to your growth and advancement.

Back to the Champions League, players need to rely on other players within the team to win. For instance, in the game between Barcelona and Celtic, Messi did not run with the ball from one end of the pitch to score. He received strings of passes and ‘assists’ from teammates before he eventually put the ball in the back of the net three times.

The lesson here for your career is quite straight-forward; working within a team helps you maximise your potential and that way, you are bound to achieve much more than if you were to do everything yourself. This perhaps explains why Barcelona won the game with a 7-0 margin.

Barcelona enjoyed 72% possession while Celtic had 28% of the possession. Do we still need to ask which team played more as a team?


Always shoot for the best

Never settle for less because when it comes to jobs, football or your career, you will always be competing with others, which explains why you need to bring your A-game to the table at all times. In the game between Barcelona and Celtic, what would have happened it Barcelona had suddenly decided to play the game without Neymar, Messi, Suarez, Andre Gomes, Busquets, Rakitic, Alba, Umtiti, Pique, Sergio Roberto, Ter Stegen, Iniesta and Rafinha? The result would definitely have been different from the 7-0 thumping of Celtic.

The odds of which team would win would have changed drastically and Celtic would surely not have conceded its heaviest defeat in European history in that match mostly because the sides would be a bit more evenly match or with Celtic even having the edge.

In your career, always put your strongest foot forward. When submitting your CV, ensure you are submitting one that has been well written and gives prominence to your qualification and experience as it relates to the position you are applying for.

The lesson here for your career is that you should always shoot for the best at all times; never settle for the crumbs.


Don’t make silly mistakes

Now, you shouldn’t make silly or avoidable mistakes like Olivier Giroud (French footballer) of Arsenal F.C. did in the game against Paris Saint-Germain F.C. He was already on a yellow card from a foul in the early half of the second game. Towards the end of the game, he stuck out his foot yet again against an opposition player, Marco Verratti and both players got a red card and were automatically sent off the pitch.

Now, in the course of your career, you have constantly find yourself handling tasks regardless of whether you already have a job and searching for a better job or unemployed. For instance, when writing your CV, you know you should avoid having a CV that is riddled with spelling mistakes or even errors of fact. To understand this even better, put yourself in the position of an employer going through the CV or an applicant and stumbles on a portion of the CV where the applicant highlights tertiary institutions attended and writes: ‘Obafemi Awolowo University, Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State.’ Making a mistake of this calibre on your CV is just as good as Giroud kicking Verratti; it’s bound to get you a red card as well.

As mentioned, avoid mistakes on documents (like your CV and cover letter) and sessions (like interviews). They have the capacity to cost you the job. Don’t make mistakes!


You need a secret weapon

In the game of football, there is a need to bring something better than the average to the stage of competition. The same rule applies to your career because, for every job that you apply for, there will be many others applying for the same position.

In football, the secret weapon comes in the form of exceptional skill, speed, athleticism, body balance and ability to finish opportunities. In your career, your secret weapon could be a variety of things; ranging from your experience to the quality of trainings and courses that you have certifications for.

However, bear in mind that it is not just enough to have a secret weapon or to think that you have it. You must ensure the secret weapon is capable of delivering expected results or even surpassing it.

In the match between Arsenal and PSG, the latter lacked the secret weapon needed to make the best of the team’s goal-scoring opportunities. PSG’s top striker, Cavani failed to make the best of opportunities he was presented with despite giving the team the opener.

At the end of the game, the consequences of his sloppy play manifested in the team sharing points with Arsenal who were able to equalise.

In your career, it is always best when you have a secret weapon like a Lewandowski, Muller, Messi, Neymar or Suarez; all scored in their opening games.

The lesson here is that in your career, you need something special. Discover what this secret weapon is and you will excel much faster than if you were filled with averages.



In this article, we have highlighted 5 lessons from the UEFA Champions League that will impact your career positively if put into practice into various facets of your job search, employment and career.


Samod Biobaku
A Nigeria-based writer and blogger who has written and edited for top brands including The SUN, Punch, Newswatch, Pulse.ng, Bigsam Media, Nigerian Bulletin, Swish Interativ, Hello Nigeria, National LIFE, iCampus, Jobberman and Cheki.


  1. I think it is quite important for job seekers to be more aggressive in their job search and when they do find it, they have to be as composed as a clinical professional to wrap up the interview.
    I’m tired of seeing job seekers who become nervous when they meet the interviewer.
    Free yourself and go for the kill.
    Get the job you want. You have the confidence you need within.

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