It’s a question many of us will have asked, particularly when the media spotlight so often shines on negative stories surrounding the profession.
Agents are most regularly seen by the wider world around big-money transfers or negotiating new contracts.
And a perception of a wild-west culture of cigar-smoking, wad-waving spivs who care little for players or the game persists.
It does a disservice to the good guys and the long hours they dedicate to their work – in a role that has been repeatedly recognised as vital from inside the game.
A good agent can act almost as another parent – advising players, many who are lacking in life skills or education, on how to best manage often huge sums of money thrown at them at a very young age.
A career as a player can be as long as 15 years but for many it’s much shorter than that.
Agents can help a player to plan for the future, get the most from their time at the top and avoid the traps that so many have fell into – from gambling and alcohol, to ill-advised investments and the wrong life decisions.
Commercial opportunities, media work and even future roles in the game can often hinge on image, attitude and education – and a good agent can help a player in all of those areas.
Negotiating deal and contracts is part of the job, and an experienced agent is more likely to get the best deal for the player.
Deals can often be complicated, with negotiations often including details of image rights, bonuses, clauses and more.
What the player wants has to come into it, too. What’s good for the player, and the player’s family, should always be just as important as the noughts on a cheque.
It’s not just the big things in a football player’s life either. It’s not been uncommon for agents to book hotels, lease cars, sort match tickets, open mail and pay bills for their clients.
Ultimately, it allows the player to concentrate on doing what he does best – playing football.