Hi, my name is Ben Wiles! I am 22 years old and I play professional football for Rotherham United. When I am not playing or watching football, I like to spend time with my family and grab a coffee with my girlfriend, Libby.
I first started playing football when I was about 10 years old. It originally started as a Saturday club with Rotherham United, so somewhere we would go to enjoy ourselves with friends. However, it became more serious after that as eventually I was scouted and classed as an academy player. My parents were constantly taking me back and forth to training sessions and games. I wouldn’t have made it if it wasn’t for my parents’ endless commitment and support. I’ll be forever grateful for the sacrifices they made for me.
Getting scouted for Rotherham was an amazing feeling as it is a club that I grew up having a soft spot for. I just loved kicking a ball around so, at that age, it was more the fact I was enjoying playing football with my friends.
It was around the age of 15/16 when it became more serious, more competitive and physical but I thought to myself I’m not bad at this sport but more importantly, I was still enjoying it. That’s the age where lads either fall out with the sport or go on to try and make a career with it. I obviously chose to stick at it and carry on to get a scholarship with Rotherham.
I put a lot of my success down to my strong foundations. My family are my biggest supporters and inspirations in everything I do, specifically my parents, Grandad and my girlfriend, Libby. They have all been a huge part of my journey and the reason why I managed to make it. They have always been there to pick me up when I am down and celebrate the highs with me. I love talking to my grandad about football because he has such good stories about how football used to be compared to now. My Grandad, Eddie Colquhoun was also a professional footballer. He played for Sheffield United, Bury and West Brom. My girlfriend, Libby has made such a huge difference in my confidence and attitude towards my job.
I train four times a week with Wednesdays and Sundays being rest days, and Saturday being match day. Sometimes we also have games on weekdays but this does vary. Training consists of possession games, individual drills and shape work. If I am completely honest, I do the occasional gym work and go for runs intuitively. I think doing any extra fitness for me works best when it is intuitive. My extra running is dependant on the time of the year. When I have pre-season I run most days, usually consisting of 5k runs and sprints.
There is a degree of pressure attached to being fit. However, it is more the performance aspect that creates a sense of pressure. I don’t want to disappoint my family and fans.
When I have a home game, I have to be at the stadium at 1:30 pm. I get up at around 10 am and have late breakfast/brunch – my morning typically starts with a coffee. Once I’ve arrived at the stadium, we prepare for the game ahead. This consists of game analysis and stretching. In terms of an away game, we travel to the game the night before dependant on the distance (if the away game is over two hours away then we go the night before). When staying in a hotel we go for a walk in the morning to grab a coffee and stretch our legs, followed by a pre-match meal. We then get on the coach and head to the opposition’s ground. From there, we go into the changing rooms and inspect the pitch. Once that’s done we go through the analysis; mentally and physically preparing ourselves. I play central midfield, however, recently my roles have varied when needed.
I get on really well with the lads at Rotherham. We have a strong team spirit, and all appreciate each other’s dynamics and qualities. Having a strong, positive team morale is key to a good performance. It uplifts one another and pushes us to give it our all.
My proudest moment so far had to be making my debut at Rotherham. I am proud of the progress I have made, however, I am still young and have only played for Rotherham so far. I am excited to see my progress within this career. I feel extremely grateful.
The less glamourous side to the job has to be dealing with unnecessary comments from fans. You have to take things with a pinch of salt and remain professional in this career. We all have our ‘off’ game, so it is important to try and consistently perform to a high standard. Some people don’t realise that being a footballer can be lonely in the aspect that, we make a lot of sacrifices to maintain our job. For example, certain social gatherings can’t be attended if I have training or a game the next day. I say this, but a footballers career is short-lived. You don’t have time to feel sorry for yourself, you just have to crack on and motivate yourself every day to get better with a smile on your face.
Despite football, I enjoy playing the Playstation, watching films, and spending time with Libby. We often go out for walks with a coffee. I also enjoy the occasional game of golf… I’m not very good but I enjoy playing it nonetheless. Whenever I can, I like to head home and spend time with my family. I am always so happy to see them.
If I could give one piece of advice to anyone who wants to pursue a career as a footballer, I’d say, enjoy it. Have a smile on your face and enjoy playing football. Don’t take criticism too harshly, let it be your motivator to try harder. From my experience, if a coach is being constructive, they care and they want you to progress. You have to want that progress with them. There have been times when I’ve sulked about receiving criticism, to a point where I become introverted. Don’t get me wrong, some days I still do have a sulk. However, since maturing within the club, I soon get over it and crack on.