Youth League helping players win on and off the pitch

A lack of competitive action has not prevented young players' career development thanks to the UEFA For Players app.

Real Zaragoza are the top-scoring club in the UEFA For Players app
Real Zaragoza are the top-scoring club in the UEFA For Players app ©Getty Images

There may be no action on pitches around Europe, but UEFA Youth League players across the continent are still able to benefit and work on their budding careers thanks to the UEFA For Players app, which offers crucial guidance and advice for footballers.

As part of this season's UEFA Youth League education initiatives, clubs and their players have been using the app to gain practical information for life on and off the field.

The tournament was scheduled to reach its conclusion in April, but like other UEFA competitions it is currently postponed until further notice due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite the break in play, teams continue to utilise the app, which features a variety of modules and challenges for players to complete, earning points on a leaderboard as they go.

2542i_UYL UEFA for Players 16-9_v3
2542i_UYL UEFA for Players 16-9_v3

UEFA has awarded special prizes to top-scoring players each month throughout the season, with the leading club at the end of the campaign to receive funding for a special team-building activity.

The winners

As things stand, the top three players are:

1. Filip Horský (Slavia Praha)
2. Lennert Hallaert (Club Brugge)
3. Francho Serrano (Real Zaragoza)

And the top three clubs are:

1. Real Zaragoza
2. Juventus
3. Atlético Madrid & Derby County (NB: joint 3rd prize)

"This app has helped us to have a better understanding of the adult football world," said Zaragoza captain and third-placed player, Francho Serrano. "We are conscious that is very important having a complete education and this app does that.

Juventus and Atlético feature in the top three
Juventus and Atlético feature in the top three©Getty Images

"It has been a great honour for us to carry the name of Real Zaragoza in Europe, competing against historic clubs in the UEFA Youth League. We have felt the responsibility of doing our best, as always, and in my case wearing a UEFA captain's armband has been really amazing."

Progression on and off the field

Zaragoza academy director, Ramón Lozano, believes the UEFA Youth League experience has been particularly beneficial for the club's youngsters.

"The experience was great for them. They have had the responsibility of representing Real Zaragoza again in Europe and their behaviour has been incredible, all of us are proud of them," he explained, before discussing how the UEFA For Players app has assisted the squad.

Real Zaragoza have relished the experience
Real Zaragoza have relished the experience©Getty Images

"Winning this trophy has shown them that working as a team with constant effort and dedication can have brilliant results. They have learnt that football is not just what happens on the field, but there are other factors like financial management, their second career and integrity values."

The Youth League has also given clubs opportunities to exchange ideas and foster good relationships. Club Brugge competed against Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid this season, and Pascal De Maesschalck, Brugge's academy head, believes this coming together will help his players' progression.

"Colleagues were open to share information on how they work," he said. "The staff of Real Madrid gave a presentation for our academy coaches when they came to Brugge and we dined with colleagues from PSG to share ideas.

Joy for Club Brugge in the UEFA Youth League
Joy for Club Brugge in the UEFA Youth League©UEFA.com

"The Youth League also gives us, from a management point of view, very interesting information about our players. What we see, because we were lucky to play two campaigns in a row, is that the players make the next step in every aspect of what this competition is about – high performance, focus, quality on the ball, taking responsibility in every part of the game. It means the players can integrate sooner in the first team because of this experience."

UEFA For Players

The UEFA For Players app was developed with input from former internationals to help professionals tackle the challenges of a career, both on and off the pitch.

With an interactive and engaging gamified format, the app boasts a wide range of educational modules, all based on immersive simulation videos and real-life case studies.

The modules:

Derby County also appear on the roll of honour
Derby County also appear on the roll of honour©Getty Images

• My UEFA – Key messages about UEFA, its values, roles and mission

• Anti-Doping – Information on anti-doping to raise awareness and protect players

• UEFA Integrity – Key information and takeaway messages on integrity to better protect players

• My Game – Key information about the Laws of the Game and the regulations of UEFA's main competitions

• My Second Career – Information on preparing for a career off the pitch and education programmes that can help

• My Image – Communication, media and social media training with the main do's and don'ts and takeaway messages

• My Finances – Information on the importance of players properly managing their finances and financial obligations

• Social Fair Play – Information on diversity and inclusion and how to act as agents of change on and off the field