Just watched the Arsenal-Sunderland match, and something came to mind. One of the Sunderland players who stood out was Dwight Yorke. I’m not a big fan of the player, but still, there’s something we can learn from him.
First, a little history about Dwight Yorke. He’s a former Treble winner with Manchester United, and was an essential part of that team. He made his name as a striker. At his peak, he was one of the most lethal goal scorers in England, scoring 47 goals in 95 games for United, and 73 in 232 appearances for Aston Villa before that.
But today, for Sunderland, he’s playing as a holding midfielder. For non-soccer fans, that means he’s a defensive midfielder, playing just in front of the defense. That’s a big change. From playing up front as a striker, to playing in front of the defense as a holding midfielder. Yet, he performed tremendously well, and was crucial in Sunderland’s performance today.
He’s 35 now, and he wouldn’t really have succeeded at this level as a striker, given his age. But he reinvented himself into a defensive midfielder, and that’s why he can still play at the highest level. That’s the a very important lesson that we can learn from him. To last at the highest level, you have to constantly reinvent yourself.
And why was Yorke so successful in reinventing himself? It’s mainly his reading of the game. The same reading and positional sense that made him so lethal as a striker – the ability to predict and judge where the ball would go next. That ability allows him to act faster than his opponents. It made him really successful as a striker, and now it’s allowing him to succeed as a holding midfielder.
Yorke shows us that positional sense and “reading of the game” is a very valuable skill. Having that ability to guess (and guess accurately) what will happen next will get you far. No matter what you’re doing, it’s just as useful. It was useful for Yorke as a striker, and it’s just as useful for him as a holding midfielder now. And it was crucial in his ability to reinvent himself so successfully, and keep himself at the highest level.
How are you reinventing yourself to stay on top?