The players take their seats in the changing room before the manager arrives. They wait patiently, knowing exactly what is expected from them: “To perform to the best of their ability”
The changing room is hallowed ground. The manager’s last bastion, this is where passions are fired and victories are celebrated. The shirts hanging on the pegs will accompany their owners into battle on the playing field. Players have many different ways to boost their self-confidence; some role up their sleeves while others will play with long sleeves in all conditions. Some even tie bands around their arms to enhance their biceps.
The captains always stand out, exchanging their pennants before the game begins. Their armband is a badge of honour like a general's stripes.
Footballers and their superstitions are well known. Some will call a loved one before a game while others will listen to their favourite song. A few write loved ones' names on their shin-pads. Footballers are performers and in that sense no different to the Broadway actors of West Side Story praying before going out on stage.
As kick-off approaches the players line up in the tunnel, fully focused on the task at hand. This is the calm before the storm, as the stars of the show do up their laces and stomp their feet on the ground in preparation of what is to come. The manager passes on his final messages, firing up his team and the 11 players walk together, stomping their boots on the ground like brothers at arms.
As the players step onto the field, excited faces await the starting whistle to be blown.
If you are wondering what happens behind the scenes in the changing rooms at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Turkey 2013, take a look at the pictures in our exclusive gallery.