Every soccer player has his or her doubters. Whether it’s a coach, family member, or rival, someone has told them that their dreams are too big or impossible. But those words don’t make the elite give up – they only make them work harder. Those haters are fuel to the fire. Don’t believe us? Here’s how some of the best soccer players in the world have Conquered Their Can’t. Shout out to our friends at STACK.com for the great videos.
Lucas Mendes, Gatorade National Boys’ Soccer Player of the Year
“I have a tweet from my freshmen year. Someone said, ‘Lucas is too small, and he’ll never make it as a professional athlete.’ I still have that up on my laptop. Every day I see it and I think, ‘I have to prove everybody wrong.’”
Ella Stevens, Gatorade National Girls’ Soccer Player of the Year
“I’ve been cut from teams, and that was hard to get through. But it was a learning experience, and I’ve learned how to fail, and I think that’s necessary at the next level.”
“I played for a junior league in Argentina, and I was there for about a month. They told me I could not play because there were other players better than me. So I took a bus from Buenos Aires to Córdoba to play for a club that had space for me, and I could play there. I got better there playing professionally, and I was transferred to the Portland Timbers and won a championship.”
“No one in my career has specifically said, ‘You can’t do this,’ but I do think throughout my career I have faced some challenges. I’m very short, and I always felt like I would get overlooked because I didn’t have the height and the stature that other girls had. At a very young age I was like, ‘Wow, am I even going to continue playing this sport because other girls are just going to get bigger and taller than me?’ So I think that was something I had to deal with when I was younger.”
So now that you’ve heard from some elite footballers, tell us in the comments about your own #SayICant story and how you have overcome or are planning on overcoming it. And as you prepare to Conquer Your Can’t, check out our Soccer Gear Guide to discover this season’s hottest soccer gear.
It only took a year for Portland’s Lucas Melano to win a title in the MLS, but that immediate success hasn’t made him any less motivated. Lucas has overcome plenty so far during his career and is constantly focused on proving his doubters wrong. Let’s get to know the speedy forward.
Transitioning To The MLS
Eastbay: You came over from the Argentine Football League to the Portland Timbers in July of 2015. How has the transition gone so far?
Lucas: The truth is, it was very difficult moving here at first. The hardest part was coming here alone without family or friends. It was a completely different language and league, but the thing we did have in common was futbol. It took me time to adapt to being here, but having my teammates made things a lot easier.
Eastbay: Portland was able to win the title during your first year with the team. How cool was it to be a part of such early success?
Lucas: It was beautiful! When I came to Portland, the fans there told me I was going to a club that would contend for a championship. It was a very smart club with good teammates. This is a very good league, but as the year went on, we just kept fighting and fighting. When we got to the playoffs, we just kept that same mentality and were able to win it all.
Eastbay: How are you and your teammates staying motivated throughout this season and focusing on repeating?
Lucas: Last year told us that in order to make it to the championship, we have to train and make sacrifices. So, this year, we are working and practicing harder than ever. We know what it takes and really want to get back there.
Training For Greatness
Eastbay: Your speed and pace on the pitch are particularly impressive. When you train, what types of drills do you do to stay so fast?
Lucas: I always try and give maximum effort during my training no matter how hard it is. We do a lot of ball drills focused on velocity. We also play 4-on-4 or 8-on-8 soccer in smaller sections of the field than normal. It really helps with your mobility and ball movement, because you have to react so quickly. Then, when you play a normal game, the field really opens up.
Eastbay: What types of food do you like to eat during the season to keep your body fueled?
Lucas: I love all types of food, but during the season I have to watch what I eat. I can’t be eating hamburgers and fries all the time! I like to eat a lot of protein and fruit and try to find the right amount of healthy balance.
Conquering His Can’t
Eastbay: At any point in your career, has anyone told you that you can’t do something? How did you prove them wrong?
Lucas: I played for a junior league in Argentina at one point and I was only there for about a month. They told me I couldn’t play there because there were other players better than me. But I didn’t give up, I kept going. So I took a bus from Buenos Aires to Córdoba, found a club that had space for me, and started playing there. I got a lot better and made it to the point where I got transferred to the Portland Timbers and won a championship.