Is a big ego crucial to achieving sporting greatness?

unnamedPrince Naseem Hamed was the world’s best featherweight boxer between 1997 and 2000. But one wonders how much more he could have achieved had he not become lost in the fog of his own hype and cut corners in training, resulting in the only defeat of his career to Marco Antonio Barrera in 2001 and subsequent retirement, aged just 28, in 2002.

Sport psychologist Steven Sylvester, who has worked with England cricketer Moeen Ali, two world champion snooker players and a major-winning golfer, among numerous other athletes, cites the problems caused when a sportsman or sportswoman adopts a selfish approach.

“That mindset is a catastrophe for me,” said Sylvester. “We want athletes to make the right decisions on the pitch under pressure and think how they might benefit their team-mates rather than just themselves. ”

By Alec Fenn Football writer BBC SPORT

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