From Southend Manor to LA: Dan McCarthy aims for overseas success

Dan McCarthy playing for West Alabama

Dan McCarthy playing for West Alabama

First published in Sport by

A BUDDING football coach from Eastwood will be returning to foreign shores to continue his scholarship – and says he dreams of opening his own football academy.

Dan McCarthy recently spent a year in Livingston, Alabama after he was picked up by USA scouts having trialled at the London Soccerdome, formerly known as the David Beckham Academy.

Having spent the last four months playing for Essex Senior League side Southend Manor, the 21-year-old will now resume his scholarship and head back to the USA. Destination – Los Angeles.

It will be the last three years of his scholarship, in a journey which began back in January 2012. Having played for Chelsea’s shadow squad, the centre-back was told he would not be progressing into the reserves and should look to pursue his career elsewhere.

Step in FirstPoint USA – a sports scholarship programme across the North Atlantic.

American soccer scholarships have previously seen stars born – including USA Soccer captain Clint Dempsey and former professionals Carlos Bocanegra and Maurice Edu.

In a bid to attract attention from US scouts, McCarthy tried out at the London Soccerdome, with 100 other teenagers, with video clips of his highlights from trial matches in London and Hertfordshire posted on a scouting website.

“Next thing I know I had offers from about six or seven universities in the states,” said McCarthy. “I chose West Alabama in the end as they were launching a brand new team and had great potential.”

Studying kinesiology and exercise sciences, McCarthy was made captain of the University of West Alabama soccer team after his arrival in August 2012, but returned home in November 2013 (midway through his second year) after a double bereavement in his family.

“I came home to be with my family,” said McCarthy. “It was a difficult time and, after speaking with the coach at West Alabama we decided I would start my second year again, but this time at LA Harbor College.”

McCarthy flies out to LA on Sunday but the current skipper of Manor has time to fit in one more match before he goes, for Manor against Colney Heath in the extra-preliminary round of the FA Cup.

“It will be great to play in the cup. We had a tough start to the season (a 5-0 loss at FC Romania) but I want to end on a high.”

He will spend the next year in LA before completing his scholarship in Iowa. After that, he is considering a Masters degree where he will be able to coach at one of the country’s premier universities.

“It would be brilliant to do some coaching and develop my game that way. I want to help others learn as I have learnt in my time in America and opening a soccer school would be the way forward.”

And McCarthy says he cannot wait to continue his football journey in the City of Angels.

“It is a place I have always wanted to go. I have always been a big fan of the LA Lakers and look forward to seeing LA Galaxy in the coming months.”

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