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A Career Rookie’s Lessons from Abroad: Pro Soccer Player Ryan Adeleye, Part II of II

February 27, 2011

On Friday, we posted Part I of our interview with American soccer player Ryan Adelaye, who plays for Hapoel Be’er Sheva in Israel’s Premier League. Today, we ask him what he’s learned, where he’s going and how to prepare one’s self for working and living abroad.

Do you have a professional mentor?

I wouldn’t say I have a professional mentor, but there are certainly experienced players that I look up to. We have a few Brazilians on the team, ages 25-26 that have been playing professionally for 10 years. I can learn a lot from them. I’ve always wanted a mentor but I’ve found that sometimes if you just keep your ears and eyes open to changes, and adapt to your current situation – whether it’s professional soccer or in a career, then you will meet people who can help you on that path.

What are some of the lessons you’ve learned on your journey?

Be a sponge. Absorb it all. That is how I learned to speak the language. How I learned the culture of the locker room. Always pay attention and “leat, leat” (translation: “slowly but surely”) you come to recognize things, and see how the organization works.

A tough lesson has been waiting for my turn to shine – sitting on the bench. People who know my track record in the U.S. know that I don’t sit on the bench. But you have to remember it’s a business now – it’s not youth soccer. It’s not “everybody plays, here are your orange slices at halftime.” It’s a business, and it’s important to have goals to achieve what you want to achieve.

You say it’s important to have goals. What are your goals? Short-term? Long-term?

Before the season I sat down individually, and also with friends and family, and set goals. I have daily goals. Work on this aspect of my game or that aspect – always pay attention, focus, and take these next steps to a larger scale. To get where I want to be, I have to play 90 minutes every game – the goal is to be a permanent player. Long term, I definitely want to play in Europe. I have an idea of when I’m 27 or 28 to make it in Italy and play there.

The only thing I’m missing, is that experience. I have the physical ability, but in my position – center back – you need that experience, you need to read the game.

What about life after soccer? Have you had any internship opportunities or professional experiences that you think may lead to a career outside of soccer?

My mother is a teacher, so I’ve always been in or around the classroom. When I was in high school I did some volunteering. I volunteered in a couple of different classrooms, working with children who were born to drug- and alcohol-addicted parents.

Children interest me the most, because you can introduce healthy habits to children that are going to last them their entire life. Whether it’s through soccer or child psychology, this is what interests me the most.

I have had experiences similar to internships: I coached youth teams in Chapel Hill, doing summer camps in between my sophomore and junior year in college and I also worked with the Carolina Dynamo, getting experience instructing youth and organizing camps.

Have you networked or spoken with other Americans playing abroad? If so, what advice have they given you?

One thing that I’ve noticed about soccer is that when you meet people, there is usually some kind of a lasting relationship. I try to stay in touch with most of my teammates. One of my good friends just found a team in Norway, we all have the sport in common and all do our best to stay in touch.

Many of my friends were drafted into MLS, and you always want to know what it’s like at other places. That’s the key about networking. There is a lot of networking that goes on – I can help to offer some assistance for someone looking for a team, and vice versa. People now recognize me, friends who play in the league … things move so quickly and you need a support system to help others move in the right direction.

Any final words of advice for those looking to pursue a career abroad?

Always keep your eyes open and pay attention if you want to come and work in another country. Most of all, be prepared. Know what kind of situations you may get into, know what’s in store: culturally, food, living, they seem basic things but being prepared gives you extra confidence in those times when you aren’t too sure or too happy. Make sure you really want to be there. If you do, and put in the hard work, you will succeed.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Yair February 28, 2011 at 8:55 am

Great words of advice for student athletes and anyone interested in living abroad.

Thanks, Ryan.

Just this past weekend, Ryan started for Hapoel Be’er Sheva and played all 90 minutes in their 0-0 draw with Hapoel Ramat Gan. Keep it up, man.


Laura and Jim Wantz March 6, 2011 at 2:33 pm

Our son, Adam, sent us the link to your interview. It was wonderful getting an update on your life and a bit of an insight as well. Sending you all the very best – Laura and Jim


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