Footballers know that playing the same position from junior football all the way up to the professional ranks isn’t common. You may need to change positions to excel as a player and find the area of the pitch that fits.
Even players at the professional level change positions to get more playing time as some players change positions due to their skillsets.
These 5 footballers excelled once changing positions and became some of the best in the world.
1. Cristiano Ronaldo: Right-wing to Striker
Cristiano Ronaldo was the world’s best winger when playing at Manchester United. His pace and skill on the flank were vital to Manchester United’s success.
However, once he joined Real Madrid, his career completely changed. Los Blancos were void of a top-class No. 9, so Ronaldo slid into the role and scored 311 goals for Real Madrid.
2. Gareth Bale: Left-back to Left-wing
Gareth Bale came through the Southampton academy as a left-back and emerged into the first team as a promising player. After just 40 appearances for the Saints, Bale was sold to Tottenham Hotspur for £10 million.
Bale’s career at Tottenham Hotspur didn’t get off to a great start due to injury and struggling to defend. Although Spurs thought they had signed a left-back, Bale’s pace, crossing, and finishing showed he was more than a defender. In 2010, he moved to left-wing and hasn’t looked back.
3. Roberto Firmino: Attacking midfielder to Striker
Roberto Firmino joined Liverpool from Hoffenheim in 2015 after tallying 49 goals and 36 assists in 153 matches in Germany. Firmino was more of a Brazilian No. 10 when he played at Hoffenheim capable of scoring goals and cutting up defences.
When he joined Liverpool, manager Brendan Rodgers didn’t know what to do with Firmino. However, months later, Jurgen Klopp had turned Firmino into the team’s No. 9. Capable of scoring goals and creating them in equal measure, Firmino is now one of the best all-around players in the Premier League. He has scored more than 65 goals and tallied over 50 assists in more than 200 matches.
4. Thierry Henry: Left-wing to Striker
Thierry Henry is one of the greatest strikers in Premier League history. However, he was on a path to never become a legendary marksman. In 1999, Henry played for Juventus as a left-wing and struggled with the Italian giants.
Upon his arrival at Arsenal, manager Arsene Wenger transformed Henry into a striker which resulted in 226 career goals for the Gunners. He would later move back to the left-wing as a member of Barcelona from 2007 to 2010.
5. Philipp Lahm: Full-back to central midfielder
Philipp Lahm was the world’s best full-back for years. It didn’t matter which side of the defence he was on, he was capable of being the best player on the pitch regardless.
Under Pep Guardiola’s reign at Bayern Munich, he felt Lahm’s skill was wasted as a full-back. Guardiola deployed the German in central midfield to control the game. It worked well and revitalised Lahm’s career as he aged.
Interestingly, current Bayern Munich coach Niko Kovac has attempted to do the same with full-back Joshua Kimmich.