Sheffield United’s former Premier League central midfielder Nick Montgomery has some blunt advice for young players coming through A-League academies in his adopted home of Australia.
The now 38-year-old youth coach says young Australian players coming through the A-League must show more grit if they want to make it in the dog-eat-dog world of professional football in Europe.
“One thing I’ve noticed these days," the former Sheffield United favourite tells FTBL, "especially so in Australia, they don’t have the resilience that you see in other countries.
“In other countries, football’s the be-all and end-all and a way out of certain lives and lifestyles."
The now-retired Montgomery, 38, is three years into a coaching career at A-League club Central Coast Mariners Academy.
And he's impressing many with his coaching nous.
More importantly, "Monty" knows all about resilience having come back from potentially career-ending injuries as a youth talent to go on and play a decade at Sheffield United, including in the English Premier League.
“Obviously it’s the best lifestyle in the world here in Australia," he adds.
“But if they [young players] don’t make it they don’t really have that desire that you see around the world.
“It’s not like it used to be. It was pretty old-school and ruthless when I was coming through.
“I have a lot of players I coach from U16 to U23 level, they say they want to go abroad and it’s their ambition, but I tell some of them they have to be realistic and they are miles off it at the moment.”
While Australia continues to qualify for World Cups - the Aussies qualifying for each one since 2006 - the number of Australian players in the top leagues of Europe has dwindled significantly over the last decade.
Interestingly, right now, the number of Australian coaches is on the rise.
“I say, ‘When you got to Europe as a player, there are hundreds and thousands of kids more hungry than you’,” says Montgomery, a hardman midfielder during his days with the Blades.
“You’ve got to be prepared if you go.
"It’s about making sure that when they do go to Europe - if they do go - they are at a level where they can have a chance, not just be a number that instead has a holiday after realising it’s too hard.
"No point in going if you’re not prepared for what’s coming ahead of you.
"It is a dog-eat-dog world and you’re going there to take their position."