At SoccerViza, we stress that football (soccer) is a game of opinions. Perspective is huge. What some coaches see in certain players might differ from what a scout might think. Both opinions might differ from those of an agent.
The outside back position is very important to the sport of football and it’s changing rapidly. From being known as just defenders with limited attack, to now regarded as a ‘wingbacks’, the position’s evolution has been evident. From Marcelo to Lahm, outside backs come in different styles.
CEO and Director of SoccerViza came from a long journey of playing football in the United States and in Europe. Originally a center back throughout high school, it all changed once he commenced his professional career. Funicello said as football changes, players must adjust and keep up with the game.
“Many agents and coaches look for wingbacks that can play on both sides of the field,” said Funicello, “meaning they could get forward and join the attack by taking space in the wide areas and creating danger through crosses and passes. At the same time, they anticipate, tackle, and work the whole sideline.”
“When I played, I was fit, I could hit the ball with both feet, and read the game,” said Funicello. “With football changing, I think now a days, what separates an average outside back from a good one, is the ability to get forward and be effective while doing so.”
For players that want to break into the professional game, Funicello said it’s very important to display your fitness and stamina. Reading transition in football is very important and a wingback that finds himself/herself up and down the field at the right times displays good fitness and football IQ. Funicello also said wingbacks who cannot put the ball where they want and attack 1 v 1 are often overlooked.
Kwame Awuah, current outside back for Forge FC and former UConn Huskey, Canadian international, and MLS player, said in today’s world, the most important qualities, defensively, for a wingback is their ability to read space, their ability to have proper defensive positioning, and being able to defend well in 1v1 situations against the opposition.
On the attacking end, Awuah, like Funicello, said wingbacks have become more attacking minded. Therefore, some offensive qualities that are important are: Technical ability (passing & receiving), crossing, beating opponents 1v1, and of course fitness and conditioning.
“From my past experiences a lot of coaches have had different opinions on my game,” said Awuah. “I’ve been recognized for being good technically, in combination play, crossing, great speed and dribbling, and good versatility because I can play multiple positions.”
“The most difficult thing about playing outside back is definitely the distance of running back and forth from 18 to 18,” said Awuah. “That's why it’s important that players in that position condition themselves and take care of their bodies.”
“The best advice I can give to fullbacks in today’s world,” said Awuah, “is to analyze the top wingbacks in today’s professional game and see how they play. What’re their tools and what’re their efficiencies and deficiencies? Take bits and pieces of their game and attempt to add to yours and improve your strengths.”