Being a Web Developer is pretty cool.

What if, one day, Gareth Bale and Zlatan Ibrahimović both wised up to this fact? Moreover, what if they both stopped kicking a ball around, hung up their football boots, and started working full-time as coders?


We’d all have a few more questions, I’m sure:

  • What kind of developers would they be?
  • How would a footballer’s skills, style and temperament translate into coding skill?
  • Will their on-pitch determination help them at all when they're sat at a computer?
  • Would a footballer even be able to cope?
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Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Footballer/Developer Style: Front-end Striker

Let’s begin with the striker. Now, energetic Ibrahimović is much more of a front-end type of guy. He’s a showy type; given his play style, for him it’s all about the visuals. In his day-to-day, I’m sure he’d be very dynamic and fast-paced when it comes to building his HTML. Now, the potential flip side of all this speed would be the occasional error here and there – and careless errors are anathema to developers, world over.

That aside, since he’s all about the set pieces, we can be sure that this kind dedication would translate well into the everyday practicalities of a coding role. For example, anyone who needs to solve problems, or push pixels around to perfection, needs their fair share of determination. 

Specifically, the following would all count as his responsibilities:

  • Keeping fonts looking good,
  • Maintaining functional drop-down menus,
  • Building functional buttons and sliders
  • Implementing some slick transitions
  • Taking care of contact forms

In short, he would excel at everything that we end-users see and interact with, when using any website, or app on a smart device.

However slick Ibrahimović would be as a front-end guy, he would be pretty stuck if he didn’t have a skilled back-end developer backing him up – much like any striker would be pretty stumped without a competent midfielder on their side. That’s where the aforementioned Welshman comes in.

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Gareth Bale

Footballer/Developer Style: Back-end Midfielder

Now, with Mr. Bale we have a very different mindset, as demonstrated by his performance on the pitch. My guess is that he would suit the role of back-end/app developer very well indeed. A stalwart mid-fielder/winger, Bale acts as the glue that makes goals happen for his side. He’s the one who facilitates the other players on his team as they work together, with everyone else pivoting around him. His pace and style of play is a little more measured, and a little more methodical.

This is the type of personality much better suited to working with website servers and databases. And therein lies the answer, as to what makes the front-end of a website even possible – the back-end guy! He’s the one who takes care of the infrastructure and technology that everything else depends on to exist. Much like a midfielder, setting the striker up with chances at goal, no?

This type of developer normally comes skilled up in technologies such as PHP, Ruby, Python and so on.

If you follow football, you’ll be aware that Bale and Ibrahimović are two very different personalities. And yet, the parallels we’ve seen here are striking. There's a fundamental synergy between front-end and back-end; this is just as true between striker and midfielder positions in football. And these parallels mirror each other closely. Maybe these points even demonstrate that developers and footballers are actually more alike than we think!

Whoever you are and whatever you do, if you’re interested in getting started with learning coding and web development, some great places to read around the subject, and get your start, are right here: