Football is a tricky game, and there have been instances where talented young players have failed to succeed at the highest level because of certain reasons.
The physicality and the speed of the game at the highest level are different from youth football, and some young players tend to do well when their roles or their positions in the team are changed. For older players as well, there is a need to understand the demands of the body and act accordingly in order to stretch their career at the top level.
We look at the 5 players who rejuvenated their career with a positional change.
#5 Gareth Bale
A product of the famed Southampton academy, Gareth Bale was regarded as one of the best forwards in the world during his prime.
His days at Southampton saw him play as a left-back, where his sheer pace and physicality, as well as his prowess with free-kicks, saw him make a name for himself. Bale was an attack-minded left-back, and his move to Tottenham Hotspur in 2007 for a fee of £13 million resulted in a positional change that would alter his career.
Then Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp started utilizing him as a winger, and the Wales international shone in his new role. Relieved of his defensive duties, Bale became one of the best wingers in the Premier League, and his performances for Tottenham Hotspur saw him move to Real Madrid for a then world-record fee of £91 million in 2013.
The 31-year-old enjoyed tremendous success during his early years at Real Madrid. However, he did not have the best of relationships with manager Zinedine Zidane as well as the fans of the club. He is currently on loan at Tottenham Hotspur, where he has scored 11 goals and provided 3 assists in 28 appearances across all competitions.
#4 Vincent Kompany
One of the best bargain buys in the history of the Premier League, Vincent Kompany is a Manchester City legend who played a key role in their transformation as one of the best clubs in the world.
A highly-rated talent during his Anderlecht days, Kompany played as a defensive midfielder for the Belgian side, as well as for Hamburger. He joined Manchester City in 2008 for a fee of £7.5 million, and during his initial days at the club, he was used as a midfielder.
However, the Belgium international became a centre-back as time progressed, with his aerial ability, physicality, intelligence and leadership quality all becoming vital to Manchester City's back-line. He made 360 appearances in all competitions for the club, with his latter years being hampered by various injury issues.
The 35-year old returned to Anderlecht in 2019 as player-manager. He retired as a player in 2020, but continues to manage Anderlecht.
Also Read: 5 best U-25 goalkeepers in the world
#3 Bastian Schweinsteiger
Regarded as one of the greatest midfielders of his generation, Bastian Schweinsteiger has won every possible trophy in the game.
A product of the Bayern Munich academy, Schweinsteiger began his playing career as a winger. He had some off-the-field issues as a youngster, but his talent was undeniable. However, his inconsistent performances on the wing saw him being used as a central midfielder, where he thrived.
The Germany international was a technically gifted player with good passing, creativity and leadership ability. Bayern Munich fans refer to Schweinsteiger as "Fussballgott" (football god), and he is a bona fide club legend.
The 36-year-old made 500 appearances in all competitions for the Bavarian giants, scoring 68 goals and providing 100 assists. He left the club in 2015 to join Manchester United for a fee of £8 million, but struggled to get going there. After a spell with Chicago Fire, Schweinsteiger retired in 2019.
#2 Sergio Ramos
It is rare for a defender to be a talisman for his club side, but Sergio Ramos' presence tends to provide a boost to Real Madrid.
One of the best centre-backs to have played the game, Ramos has enjoyed a sensational career at the very top, and it doesn't look like he is going to stop soon. The Spain international, who captains both club and country, could soon depart Los Blancos, with his contract expiring in the summer.
Ramos played as a right-back during his early days as a professional footballer. He made his name at Sevilla, and once he joined Real Madrid in 2005 for a fee of £24 million, he started being utilised as a centre-back by the club. Ramos' speed, physicality, technical ability and goalscoring knack have all been crucial to Real Madrid's success.
The 35-year old has made 670 appearances in all competitions for Real Madrid and has scored an astonishing 101 goals. He has been linked with a move to Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain.
#1 Thierry Henry
Arguably the greatest player in the history of the Premier League, Thierry Henry was a frightening footballer to play against during his prime.
Henry began his career as a winger, with his pace and technique seen as ideal tools to play on the wing. After a poor stint with Juventus, Arsenal paid £14.5 million to sign Henry in 1999, and the France international started playing as a striker for the Gunners.
A highly creative striker, Henry bamboozled opposition defences with his offensive play. He made 376 appearances for Arsenal, scoring 228 goals and providing 104 assists. He won the Premier League Golden Boot four times, and played a key role in the "Invincibles" side.
"At a certain point, I wanted to go to Wenger and tell him to put me back out wide. Then, I said to myself that I had to react, that I couldn’t fail a second time, only a few months after a negative experience in Turin."
Henry departed Arsenal in 2007 to join Barcelona. After three seasons with the La Liga giants, he played for New York Red Bulls in the MLS. The 43-year-old retired in 2014, and started a coaching career. He has managed AS Monaco and Montreal Impact.