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You have to come out of your comfort zone – Guillem Balague urges sports journalists to try working abroad

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Football journalist Guillem Balague
Football journalist Guillem Balague

The benefits of carving out a career abroad far outweigh the challenges, a Spanish football expert told students at Leeds Trinity University’s Journalism and Media Week event.

Balague has had a remarkable career covering football across the continent and has interviewed many of football’s elite stars such as Lionel Messi, as well as writing books about Cristiano Ronaldo, Diego Maradona and Pep Guardiola.

He spoke a lot about comfort zones, and he stressed to students the importance of breaking out of them as he recalled the decision he made after leaving university himself.

“I finished university in 1991, yes last century and a very long time ago.

“And I thought, I’m going to England to learn English, in my generation we learned French in school, and I had done about a year and a half of English.

“The three months became a year and a half and then two years and I just continued doing as much work as I could.

“I wrote about Prince Charles, Diana, Camilla and I did cinema reviews, anything that came my way,” he said.

Guillem drew upon his own experiences and how he still pushes himself to do new things even at the age of 52.

He said: “I do it constantly, I’m still leaving my comfort zone.

“I have started doing documentaries for CBS when I thought I had done all that.

“I have to force myself to present things and of course being in front of students today that’s not my comfort zone, but it is what made me.”

He got his break on British TV screens as a reporter for Sky Sports’ coverage of Spanish football, becoming a cornerstone of the Revista De La Liga show and from then on Guillem’s career went from strength to strength.

“Once you are in television other things happen and other things come to you, but you have to have bravery in a lot of situations to say yes.

“Then I started doing books, writing for media and a lot of other things.”

Guillem Balague on working abroad

There was one key piece of advice that Guillem gave to students who would be interested in forging a career abroad. He said: “Get out, learn another language because it opens up your mind and there are many other things you can get out of it.”

Guillem’s career has taken him to destinations across Europe in the name of football, however there is one location that left him in awe:

““There is nothing quite like Anfield. I lived in Liverpool for 10 years and Liverpool looked after me when I had nothing.

“In Europe I was in Marseille last week and there was an edge and atmosphere to that place and the Amsterdam Arena is brilliant.

“Sevilla is brilliant, if you go for one of the derbies either Sevilla or Real Betis it is brilliant.”  

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