On Sunday, the 2018 Fifa World Cup in Russia reached a grand finale with France hoisting the coveted gold trophy after beating Croatia 4-2. And soon the new season of the English Premier League will kick off as are other leagues in Europe. For soccer lovers, these are exciting times!
What is of more interest to me though is how all the transnational players that ply their trade in these lucrative leagues communicate effectively. I mean how do their coaches manage to get the message across on the training field to all these players of different nationalities? Could it be that a player that speaks many languages has more chances for success in these cutthroat competitive leagues than those who don’t?
Oh yes, multilingualism gives one an edge over others. Arsene Wenger who was at the helm of Arsenal FC for 22 years became hugely successful not only because of his coaching nous but also because of his ability to speak many languages. Monsieur Wenger speaks six languages fluently: French, English, Japanese, German, Italian and Spanish. This ability helped him to transmit his ideas clearly and easily to the players who could not speak English. For example, when he signed Cesc Fabregas from Barcelona in 2003, the latter didn’t speak or understand a word of English. Thus Wenger always interacted with him in Spanish. He also encouraged him to learn English and by the time Fabregas left the club, he was bilingual; very fluent in English and Spanish.
Wenger’s realization that the ability to speak many languages helps players to bond and understand the world and football philosophy better saw him advocate for language learning in Arsenal’s youth setup. The benefits from this quickly spilled over so much that everyone knows about the “Arsenal way”, which is basically about Arsenal’s synergy; Arsenal players having a bond akin to one close family as well allowing their feet to speak a language of their own on the field by playing quick, beautiful and aesthetic football that is hard to imitate.
Also the fact that football managers and players that are multilingual have been hugely successful wherever they have plied their trade shows that speaking many languages is a huge plus. For example, Pep Guardiola who has been very successful in Spain, Germany and England as a manager speaks German, English, Catalan, Spanish and Italian. Jose Mourinho who is also one of the most successful football managers speaks Portuguese, Spanish, French, Italian and English fluently.
Cristiano Ronaldo who has four times won the Fifa Ballon d’Or as the best player in the world speaks Portuguese, Spanish and English, whereas Manchester United star Romelu Lukaku who was born in Belgium but has Congolese roots is fluent in six languages: Dutch, French, English, Spanish, Portuguese and Swahili.
All these coaches and players are hugely successful because their ability to speak many languages helps them to easily receive and internalize messages. It gives them that extra edge and boosts their confidence. They can easily settle into many geographical realms and feel at home, thanks to their ability to easily interact with the natives of those areas.
As people continue to intermarry and travel, being multilingual becomes a necessary skill that comes with many opportunities. Moreover, many countries today have more than one official national language, thus those unable to communicate in at least two or more major languages such as English, Chinese, Spanish, Arabic or Hindi, will soon be left behind in a world that gets more complex and competitive with every passing day. However, translation companies have also kicked in to save the day with services like Somali translation services, Yoruba translation Services, Malagasy translation services, Africa Conference Interpreters among many others.