Erick Noubissie: Confessions of a Football Agent

Discover the role of football agents with Erick Noubissie, a 35-year-old full-time licensed sports agent. He recently joined Stellar and talks about his journey and his vision of the profession.

By Yam in Blog

Discover the role of football agent with Erick Noubissie, a 35-year-old full-time licensed sports agent. He recently joined Stellar and talks about his journey and his vision of the profession.

Erick Noubissie

What is your background?

Erick Noubissie: When I was younger, I played football in the best youth categories and had some club experiences in England and Germany. This allowed me to discover and approach the world of professional football.

After returning to France, I continued my studies and obtained a master's degree in finance, taxation, and economics.

Subsequently, I opened my wealth management firm. After five years, I decided to reorient myself towards the profession of football agent, in connection with FIFA.

It was a profession I had already encountered involuntarily when in 2007 I helped my brother sign with a club in Scotland. After this "deal," since I didn't yet have the appropriate license, he encouraged me to pursue this career path.

For the past four and a half years, I have been a football agent. Most agents do this job and have a side activity, but I make a living from it.

What is your vision of the role of a football player agent?

Erick Noubissie: It is both simple and complex. Simply because I must follow a guideline, which is to defend the interests of the football player I represent and accompany them throughout their career. It sounds easy when put like that. However, it requires you to wear many hats.

When you accompany a football player, it's not just about being present during their matches and signings. The role of an agent is to support them psychologically, athletically, extracurricular, and financially if possible.

Being a former wealth manager, I can help them with real estate purchases, investments, and fund placements. I educate them on the economic aspect. 

Is the role of a FIFA agent biased?

Erick Noubissie: There are FIFA agents who only show up during signings and accompany players from a distance. It's not an absolute truth, nor a generalization.

If we have this image of player agents, it's because it exists. Some agents try to seize opportunities instead of doing in-depth work. That's also why very few agents last.

It's rare to hear of a FIFA agent who has been around for more than 15 years. There are FIFA agents we hear about today who will be gone in two years. Some work little and don't follow players as much as they should, but many FIFA agents work very well generally, and unfortunately, we don't talk about them much.

What do you think are the essential points for longevity as a player agent?

Erick Noubissie: The quality of your work and your deal completion rate. It's a profession that grows through recommendations.

A FIFA-licensed agent gets more players through their players than through any other intermediary. When the work is well done, inevitably other football players want to work with you.

Players communicate a lot with each other; football is a small sphere. Things are known very quickly. 

As long as your effectiveness is above average, the players stay, and that's the only way you can last.

What are the fundamentals of the profession of a football agent?

Erick Noubissie: First of all, you need to know sports law, more specifically football law, like the back of your hand. Sometimes there is a lack of knowledge of certain legal aspects, which leads to an inability to close a deal. Some will make proposals that go against sports law, and football law, due to a lack of knowledge. Football professions are governed by laws and rules. Without this knowledge, it's tough to complete some deals.

The second fundamental is the love of football. Today, we have sports representatives who do this job out of opportunism and not passion. It is a job that requires a lot of time and energy. You cannot do this job if you are not passionate about football, or else you will do it, but you will not last long.

Erick Noubissie

With dedication, you must accept a lot of failures. There are 95% failures, whether it's in making contact or during negotiations. To achieve the 5% success rate that will allow you to make a living from the profession, you must get up early. You must be dedicated, persevering, and determined. It is a job with many "no"s and very few "yes"s.

Out of 100 attempts, you will have 98 failures and 2 successes. It takes self-sacrifice, resilience, willpower, and devotion; you must give you all to this profession.

The job of a player agent costs money; there are many expenses at the beginning before reaping the rewards. It is challenging to see it through and make a living from it.

What role does support play in case of failure? What tools do you put in place to help your players?

Erick Noubissie: Support in case of failure is the most important aspect of an agent's role.

In this type of situation, one can test the agent's skills. It is always more challenging to help a struggling football player than to accompany one for whom everything is going well.

This is where we must see the agent's qualities and especially gauge their willingness or not to support their player. The things to put in place are not different from what we usually do. We must show willingness and perseverance, which requires significant groundwork. A struggling player is someone without a club, who finds themselves in a precarious situation. We must be able to find new opportunities for the players.

The agent must work their network, call football clubs, perform rigorous work to judge the clubs that are looking for the relevant position and promote the player through a sports CV and video. They must also travel to meet the different sports directors, convincing them to give the players a trial to determine if there is a possibility or not. When the agent manages to get the player out of a complicated situation, that is when their role comes to light and takes on its full meaning.

We are also catalysts; we are here to enable football players to accelerate certain opportunities or create new ones through our network. We try to develop one that allows us to have easier access to clubs, information on needs, the amounts they are willing to invest in a player and to know if the profiles of our players match.

A methodology is prepared in advance to help football players. The most challenging part of this profession is taking care of struggling players.

Do you think it's the player that makes the football agent? Or vice versa?

Erick Noubissie: This phrase suggests that the agent doesn't need to work and that having the right football player is enough. The agent just sits back and reaps the benefits of what the player does. When a player from your stable shines on an international level (club and/or national team), this can happen. These players represent only a minority in the world of football. Not everyone has players like Kylian Mbappé, Lionel Messi at PSG, or Karim Benzema at Real Madrid.

There are between 1,100 and 1,300 professional players in France. It should be noted that about 80% of football players who sign professional contracts have a career with an average duration of about 5 to 6 years.

Some agents have worked hard to create careers for their players. Some only judge the visible part of the iceberg (the player's performance on the field).

We sometimes overlook the work that has been done in parallel. Behind-the-scenes work is carried out so that players are highlighted, recognized for their talents, and given opportunities.

I have had players who have become undesirable in the professional world. We worked to get them back on track and in the spotlight.

Thanks to the sometimes invisible work of agents, they manage to reach the top level again. So it's no longer the player that makes the agent because there has been a lot of work done to put the player back on the market.

For example, Thanawat Suengchitthawon, a footballer who plays as a midfielder, was not retained by Nancy, but we found an opportunity. He was ready to return to the amateur world. He signed his first professional contract with Leicester. If he has a great career tomorrow, which I hope for him, he will remember that people made the necessary efforts to find opportunities for him.

Hakim Guenouche is a footballer who currently plays in the Austrian Bundesliga as a left-back. When I took him on, he was without a club and hadn't played for a year. We worked to get him back on the market so that a club would give him a chance. Then he performs very well. He finishes as the best full-back in Bundesliga.2, moves up to the Bundesliga, and now plays against clubs competing in the European Cup.

The same goes for Andreaw Gravillon, a footballer who plays as a central defender. When I took him on, Inter Milan did not want to keep him. We had to find a club for him to bounce back after his great season at Lorient, and make an interesting transfer.

A decision had to be made quickly during a transfer window before he ended up in "Inter Milan's loft"; we found Stade de Reims for him.

There are cases where the player makes the agent, but the opposite is much more frequent. If we manage to find clubs, it's because the player is talented, but our role is crucial in obtaining new opportunities.

Interview conducted by Abdelwahab Hamed for SportsAgent Institute on March 9, 2022.


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