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FEATURE: "It was an experience. The security was incredible, we weren’t allowed out of the hotel." - Coventry City's Andy Rose

31 March 2016

In his PUSB programme feature, Rose lifts the lid on his time in America which included a trip to the most dangerous City in the world...

When a young footballer comes towards the end of his scholarship in an Academy, the one thought on their mind is to sign for a professional club as quickly as possible.

Andy didn’t see it like that. The 18-year old Andy Rose wasn’t ready to become a professional footballer and despite captaining the Bristol City U18s side, he made the conscious decision to move to the States to continue his studies and his football development. 

“At the time, it was more my decision to leave Bristol City. I felt there were a few players in the year above me who were very good footballers and who weren’t getting a chance under Gary Johnson,” Rose explains.

“We had English and Welsh internationals who weren’t getting a sniff either. So, I thought, would I rather sign a one-year professional deal, go on loan and battle it out? I didn’t feel ready yet. 

“This option of four years in Los Angeles at a great school where I’ll be able to get a degree and still play at a high level where a lot of players progressed into the professional game from. I thought it was a great environment and a great opportunity, and I decided pretty early on that it was going to be the path for me.”

So, off he went. Rose enrolled at the University of California and played for the UCLA Bruins for three years between 2008 and 2011, as well as NASL sides Seattle Wolves and Ventura County Fusion. The Bruins have a proud history of bringing through emerging American talent and none other than former Coventry City player Cobi Jones graduated through the UCLA system.

Through the Hollywood film industry, our impression of American College education looks like a lot of fun with the parties and the endless amounts of red cups. However, with the aim to be a professional footballer, Andy didn’t go and live the stereotype.

“To be able to obtain a degree during my time there was a huge selling point. You never know in football as you’re always one injury away from retirement. To have that back-up plan is smart for me,” Andy continued.

“It was what I made it really. You’re at an age when there is a lot of fun to be had and it was a really great time in my life, I have some great memories.

“However, I went there with an end goal and even though I didn’t feel ready to be a professional, I knew that was my aim at the end of the course. That takes a lot of discipline. There are a lot of good players in America, especially in the college system so you’ve got to work hard to stand out.”

The American sports graduation system has always been subject to debate in the UK and whether clubs should adopt the same approach here. In the NFL, NBA and MLS, players must go through a college education and play at college level to become a professional in those sports.

With footballers’ daily lives trivialised and examined by the media continually, the debate has often been that an extended education could prepare footballers better for the world. Should we adopt it then Andy?

“It’s a really tricky one as the systems are so different. In America, there is such a focus on gaining a college education once you finish high school at the age of 18,” Andy said. 

“The college sports system is absolutely massive over there, a huge revenue maker and there is a real focus on making sure the education is complete before professional sports.

“I don’t think it would work over here. The Academy system over here is much more advanced in England and obviously exposes players to professional football much sooner. There is a lot that can change with the college system over there and there are improving the Academies at the moment. 

“Both ways can produce players and talent, that’s for sure and it isn’t a case which is better, but what works for each player. The American system worked for me.”

After he obtained his degree at UCLA, it was time to make the leap into professional football and the MLS. But again, this is very different to what we expect over here. The best college players are selected and go into the MLS Draft where they play in what they call the ‘combine’ where players are put in teams they’ve never played with before and urged to impress the watching scouts and coaches.

Oddly, he was selected by Real Salt Lake, an MLS side. But things changed very quickly.

“It was a huge relief to come through that process. You play in the combine and you hope the scouts have already done their research on you as there is a lot of pressure on a few games,” Rose continued.

“So, I was selected for Real Salt Lake. I was goggling Salt Lake in Utah which I knew nothing about. But, trades over there and very frequent and happen without you knowing. I got a phone call to say the club had a trade set up before the draft as Seattle wanted me and didn’t have a pick. 

“So, without kicking a ball for Real, I was off to Seattle and Salt Lake got a player in return. I knew everything about Seattle though as in terms of the teams you want to play for, Seattle is right up there. The highest average support in an incredible stadium and it’s so passionate up there so I was really excited about it.”

Three years at Seattle Sounders followed where he made over 90 appearances for the side and was part of the squad which won the 2014 Western Conference, the 2014 Supporters Shield and the 2014 Open Cup.

His three years in Seattle also allowed him to see some of the world in the CONCACAF Champions League. Rose played in Mexico, Trindad and Tobago and even though one of the most dangerous countries in the world, Honduras. 

During the 2015 season, Rose featured for Sounders against CD Olimpia in Tegucigalpa, the murder capital of the world. 

“It was an experience. How often do you get to fly into Honduras and play in a pretty hostile atmosphere? The security was incredible, we weren’t allowed out of the hotel and it was crazy.

“I also got to play in Mexico in some amazing stadiums against some pretty brilliant teams. Great memories for me and I’m so happy I did it.

“Now, we’re over here and really enjoying it. The Warwickshire area is wonderful as we’ve settled in a little house and really got to know the local area. My family is only an hour and a half away. Hopefully, I can continue to progress here and I’m really excited about my future.”

Andy married in the summer to Ryan, Bob Bradley’s daughter, before securing his move to Coventry City. Probably a good thing he didn’t tell her he was swapping Seattle for the West Midlands beforehand…

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