Ricky Lambert’s rise to play football for England by making his debut at the age of 31 is an inspiration for many. Reading his manager’s comments below there’s some useful reminders about fulfilling potential.

England football manager Roy Hodgson, 66, has been talking about Ricky Lambert, the leading English scorer in the Premier League last season.

“One thing you have to say is that he must have a very strong mentality. If you look into his past, to suffer that many knockbacks, then surely he hasn’t suddenly become a talented footballer who has got good touch on the ball, works hard for his team and had got a good understanding. He must have had that for quite a number of years and yet people have been watching him play and passing him over, me included, because I was watching him for a year before I included him in the team. I’m not suggesting I’m any different.

“You have got to be pretty strong mentally to keep believing in yourself and to believe you are still a good player and wait for your chance. And when it comes along, to take it like he has, has been quite fantastic.”

Eventually being rewarded by and England call up is evidence that Lambert has made the most of the attitude of having a desire to improve. You’d also suggest that he’s likely to have been determined to find out how good he can be whilst making the most of each opportunity he had, one at a time. As well as these positive attributes, there are other winning ingredients that people like Lambert remind us of. First, it’s critical to remain confident in your ability regardless of results. Second, you can’t rely solely on the feedback of others to determine how much you rate yourself – your own view of you is important to stay focused on, whilst looking to benefit from other people’s views when they’re available. This is also another reminder of the essential ingredient of having a great work ethic.

A final thought that Lambert’s story reinforces is that competing with yourself to get better can be as effective as striving to out perform other people. Getting the balance right between testing yourself out against your previous best, whilst also having a desire to out perform others, will always mean that key motivational drivers get to be used positively and you’ve always got choice over which focus will deliver most impact for you at any point in time. Who are you competing against today? Choose wisely.