There’s a time in young player’s life when dreams begin taking a more realistic shape.
A trip to Europe to train with a top academy can cut down the distance between the dream and reality. Lifelong pipe dreams suddenly don’t feel quite so much like pipe dreams anymore.
For Dantae Greer, that situation dawned on him recently when he made his way to England for a training opportunity with Norwich City.
“The trip was definitely one of the best times in my life,” Greer told TopDrawerSoccer.com. “It was new for me to train twice a day. Even though I’ve met a lot of professional players in the past, it was amazing to be in the same room with the first team, sitting next to [captain Sebastien] Bassong, and eating our meals together. It’s funny how I used to watch him on TV playing with clubs like Tottenham and Norwich, and now I’m sitting next to him eating. This experience showed me how close I really am to becoming a professional footballer.”
The chance for Greer to train with the English Premier League club came through a bit of luck.
“My father created a highlight reel for me, and then we posted it on YouTube, and sent the link out to everyone,” Greer said. “We sent it to one of my old coaches who lives in England who at the time happened to be with Russell Martin, the right back for Norwich City. He saw my highlight reel and enjoyed it very much, so he referred me to the club.”
Greer, a highly regarded prospect of the New York Red Bulls Academy, is no novice to the European experience. The striker has been making the trek across the Atlantic since he was as young as 10.
“I’ve been fortunate to be able to train at a few clubs in different parts of the world,” Greer said. “My first international experience was when I was 10 going to train with Real Madrid. My next trip was to Austria, training with the division team SV Salzburg. After that trip, I made my rounds to train with the top team in Israel, Maccabi Tel Aviv.”
From all of the travels and training experiences, the attacker has picked up on a few things.
“All of those experience were challenging because I was playing two to three years up, but they both showed me how high of a level that I could compete on because I was offered spots at both academies,” Greer said. “These opportunities to gain international experiences are important to see the football culture abroad.”
The most recent training spot offered a contrast from his play at Red Bulls.
“While both teams are great clubs, they differ in a few ways,” Greer said. “For instance, Norwich City trains twice a day, every day. At Red Bull, my team normally trains three times a week. Another difference was that the game appeared to be a lot quicker; it was one-touch football.”
Once again, clubs had Greer playing against older competition.
“Especially me just turning 15 playing with the U16s and U18s, I had to play quickly so I could avoid tackles,” Greer said. “I did well with that. At Red Bull, I’m in the center forward role and I get about three breakaways a game, which usually end up as goals. At Norwich, shots were created by quick play, give and go, and third man runs. It was a great challenge.”
Greer has been on a tear recently with Red Bulls, as he scored 65 goals combined between the fall and spring seasons for the club’s U14 side. The forward helped his squad to a place in the semifinal round of the NPL Champions Cup in Denver in July.
Texas Rush standout trains with Chicago Fire
Bubacarr Jobe, a member of Rush Soccer, recently completed a three-day training stint with Chicago Fire. Jobe recently played with Texas Rush where he scored 10 goals in 27 games in the Development Academy last season.
The attacking midfielder with decent size trained with Fire last week, as he looks for a professional opportunity now that he is too old for the Development Academy.
Luis Arreola, profiled in this series last week, wrapped up his stint with Schalke 04 Academy on Monday. Arreola scored for the club’s 1999 team in a 3-0 scrimmage win over the 1998 team.
Luis Arreola’s father told TopDrawerSoccer.com that Schalke has already invited him back for another trial as soon as possible.