« Now here’s an American footie (soccer) player that you wouldn’t have heard of.
Jay DeMerit made it into English football, but not by the usual routes.
Jay originally hails from an area in the USA that – sporting wise – is known for it’s (American) football.
With the gridiron football the Quarterback position is the equivalent of the captain of the team. He makes all the plays, he controls the game the same way a central midfielder such as Captain Marvel did.
So growing up in that area as DeMerit did, the expectation was for everybody to take up and play (American) football. Jay though, was somebody that didn’t.
He played college soccer at the University of Illinois at Chicago, but after graduation none of the MLS teams drafted him
[click here for info about MLS Draft], so thanks to his Danish grandfather Jay took advantage of his E.U work status and flew over to Blighty and began looking for a place to play.
He was given a chance and started at a lowest level with Southall Town F.C. who play… *takes deep breath*… in the Cherry Red Books Middlesex County League Division One (Central & East).
A year later he went to the semi-professional club Northwood (Isthmian League Division One North) and it was whilst playing in a friendly for them against Watford that the then manager Ray Lewington spotted him and was offered a two week trial. After the trial he signed for a year but since then has become a permanent fixture in the Watford back four.
A couple of seasons ago Watford found themselves in the toppermost of the poppermost divisions and DeMerit archived his dream of playing in the English Premier League.
It was also during this season that he gave something back.
A few years before when playing for Northwood the teams assistant coach’s father died of cancer. Jay wanted to do something to raise awareness and funds for Cancer Research UK.
– From his Justgiving page:
“I came to England three years ago from Wisconsin, wanting to travel, have fun and play a bit of soccer. Now here I am in 2006, lining up against the likes of Thierry Henry, Wayne Rooney and Andriy Shevchenko!
Watford spotted me playing for little Northwood two seasons ago, signed me on a professional contract and the rest is history.
Last May I scored the winning goal at the Millennium Stadium in the Championship Playoff Final and thereby I achieved my dream of becoming a Premiership player.
Unfortunately, not everyone achieves their dreams because cancer steals their lives from them too soon.
When I played for Northwood, my assistant coach’s father died of the disease and I thought about how precious life is, and how swiftly and cruelly it can be snatched away.
We played a charity game in his memory in aid of Cancer Research UK and so when I recorded the single “Soccer Rocks!” with some friends in Minneapolis this summer, I decided it had to go to a good cause, and I could not think of one closer to my heart than this.”
The page is closed for donations now, but you can still donate by clicking here.
|» Jay DeMerit – Soccer Rocks|
A postscript: As you can see there are more American born players plying their trade in Europe than you thought. There’s an excellent website called Yanks Abroad that keeps tabs on them all.