Everything you need to know about football can be learned from the frankly awesome smartphone game Score! Hero.
It’s a neat little game in which you guide a player through his career, tracing out the path you want the ball to take with your finger as you play 20 games a season with your hero.
Here’s what we’ve learned along the way…
1. If you’re good enough, you’re old enough.
You’ll be amazed how quickly you rise through the ranks in Score! Hero. One minute you’re a young whippersnapper trying to impress in trials, the next you’re leading the line for your first club. Quite right too – talent should be rewarded, regardless of age. Just ask Dele Alli, Marcus Rashford or Alex Iwobi.
2. Placement is everything.
One thing Score! Hero teaches you is that you need to place your shot perfectly. Do that and the keeper will have no chance – fail and you’ll be thwarted by seemingly impossible saves. Aiming for the far corner is usually your best bet, unless the keeper is poorly placed. Find that far corner with unerring regularity and you’ll find that, like the startlingly accurate Harry Kane, your rise will be pretty unstoppable.
3. Football is a small world.
Sometimes in football it feels like your team just plays the same few fixtures over and over again. In Score! Hero, you really do. Therefore, expect to face the likes of Leeds, Hull, Derby, Leicester, Newcastle, Manchester, Chelsea and Liverpool over and over again. If it’s variety you’re after, you’ll have to earn yourself a glamour move to the continent.
4. Commercialism is ruining the game.
If you’re prepared to watch a 30-second ad, you can earn yourself a quick rewind in the world of Score! Hero, allowing you the chance to retake your last errant kick. Consequently if we see another ad for Cooking Fever or Walking War Robots, we might just lose it quicker than Nigel Pearson at the sight of an ostrich. If you choose to, you could see it as a neat little metaphor for the way brands scrabble around for their piece of the football pie by sponsoring clubs or becoming their official soya milk partner, leaving no corner of the game untouched by corporate logos.
5. Big bucks will get you 90% of the way there.
If you’re not the type of person who finds the very thought of spending money on in-app purchases stomach-churning, you can buy yourself unlimited energy for a day, or the sort of warchest that will let you go back and correct every mistake you could ever make for season after season. None of this will do you any good though if you haven’t got the skill to make it count. That would be the Score! Hero equivalent of being a billionaire with money to burn, getting yourself a football team and spending a fortune on players, but being unable to settle on a manager who knows what they’re doing.
6. Penalties are harder than they look.
Frankly, we’ve never had much sympathy with players who miss penalties. It’s a big goal and a relatively small keeper. How hard can it be? But having wasted many lives attempting to score from the spot on Score! Hero, we’re sold. Penalties are hard.
7. There’s nothing more beautiful than a 1-0 win.
Goals are most definitely overrated. The better the team you’re at in Score! Hero, the harder the game becomes, because you have to score more and more goals. And if you make a mistake on, say, the third goal, you have to go all the way back to the start and go through goals one and two again. There’s nothing quite like messing up your finish on goal number four and having to start from scratch to make you appreciate the beautiful economy of a 1-0 win. Yet another reason to admire Leicester.
8. What goes up must come down.
It might feel like you’re on an unstoppable path to stratosphere, but once you’ve proved yourself on the biggest stages in the game – the Continental Cup and the World Tournament, obviously – there’s not really anywhere to go but down. Or perhaps a lucrative contract on the other side of the pond. Just make sure you drag that career out as long as you can. You’re a long time retired…