The soccer world had its own glitzy awards ceremony at FIFA’s annual gala in Zurich. The event turned out to be a big night for the US women’s soccer team: Captain Carli Lloyd was named Women’s Player of the Year (the ultimate honour in the sport), thanks to her Greek Australian personal trainer James Galanis.

During her acceptance speech, Lloyd gave a special shout-out to her personal trainer. “We started this journey 13 years ago and you told me I could become the best player in the world,” she said. “It just took me now [to realise] that I could.”

Her whole career she’d been told “you’re the best, you’re the best”, and had fallen into a trap where she’d become lax. She was able to get away with giving only 70 or 80 per cent, which was good enough.

About 12 years ago, she was cut from the national U21 team.

She was invited back because another player got hurt, but had a decision to make about her future. She wasn’t starting, was getting hardly any playing time, wasn’t in shape or mentally strong. So maybe it was time to give it up.

That’s when her father sought help from local New Jersey soccer guru James Galanis, the director of soccer operations for the Universal Soccer Academy.

He had a reputation of turning players into world-class athletes and before Lloyd made a final decision, her father wanted to see if Galanis could work some magic.

He did.