Reo-Coker: Koffie has all the attributes to play in Europe to play at the highest level
by Harjeet Johal, Vancouver
In the short time that Nigel Reo-Coker has been in Vancouver he has already made a huge contribution to the Vancouver Whitecaps. He came on as a sub to start the second half in Vancouver’s 1-0 win over Toronto FC last Saturday.
When the vocal 28 year-old from the South London district of Thornton Heath speaks everyone on his team listens and pays attention. Reo-Coker’s calming, enthusiastic, and positive out look on and off the pitch has already earned him respect and the admiration of his Vancouver Whitecaps teammates.
Reo-Coker was available for a brief interview after practice this week, where he touched on some of the reasons for his move across the pond.
You had options to play in Portland, and New York why did you decide to sign with Vancouver?
Nigel Reo-Coker: I had a good conversation with the manager, and the manager was working with one of my best friends (Chris Nurse) previously before this club and everything fell into place.
What did your good friend Chris Nurse have to say about MLS that you weren’t quite aware about?
Nigel Reo-Coker: Well before I came here I always knew it was a good organization. It’s a great city, and it’s one of the most recognizable cities in the world. It’s a beautiful place and it’s a great new life experience.
The football club is run very well and since I’ve been here they’ve treated me very very well. The fans have been very nice and the manager was very complimentary of myself and he let me know the reasons why he wanted me to come here . He thought I could bring to the team and what I thought I could add to the team. As I say it fell into place.
Can you elaborate on some of those reasons?
Nigel Reo-Coker: No… just footballing reasons. He (Martin Rennie) wants people to come here and do well. He wants to improve everyday, and he wants players to want to improve. He’s got a young team, and with the experiences I’ve gathered from my time playing in England and my age, I’ve got invaluable experience which I can pass down to the younger generation and younger team.
You know we’ve got a very youthful team and like I said, the sky’s the limit for them. It’s for them to develop and become better players and want to become better players.
We’re seeing a lot of players from UK coming over to MLS. What type of reputation does MLS have in the UK?
Nigel Reo-Coker: It’s a growing league regardless of what people say. With people in England the perception use to be .. ’oh the retirement league’ so to speak but I think that’s unfair. If you look at the MLS now nearly every season there’s about 5 or 10 MLS players who go and play in Europe so I don’t think people can say that. The athleticism is fantastic. The football knowledge and gaining that European style of football and the knowledge of the game that’s what’s improving here.
You’ve talked a bit about Russell Teibert, but who else has impressed you among the Whitecaps?
Nigel Reo-Coker: (Gershon) Koffie is a top player and he has fantastic ability. The sky is the limit for this young man.
He’s got all the attributes it takes to play in Europe to play at the highest level. It’s down to him how much he wants it.
There are so many good young players coming through as well that if they continue to develop and want to improve and become better players then they could play at whatever level they feel comfortable playing at.
There was talk that you might play right back in Vancouver. Are you comfortable at that position, would you be interested in playing right back?
Nigel Reo-Coker: I’m a box to box centre midfielder but my knowledge of the game is something that I’ve always wanted to learn and develop. I’m versatile and that’s something that I’m proud of. I’m proud to be a versatile player, if need be that I have to play a different position for the team then I will do it.
Throughout your career you’ve often worn the captains armband. With Jay DeMerit out would you be comfortable wearing the captains armband or is it too soon in a new organization?
Nigel Reo-Coker: That’s down to the manager only a manager can make a decision like that. I’ll always be vocal regardless, and that’s not me being cocky or arrogant in anyway whatsoever.
That’s something I’ve been doing from the age of 18 when I was captain of Wimbledon in the Championship.
I’m the youngest captain still today in the Championship League in England and I think the youngest captain at West Ham. All those type of things for me are something that I’m use to. But again it’s down to the manager, it’s not going to stop me from being vocal from trying to help my team to get a result and help the younger players.
Why do you think you are so vocal on and off the pitch?
Nigel Reo-Coker: It’s just something that’s in me. It’s not something you can pin point for one specific thing. It’s something I’ve been doing from a young age and it’s something that I’ve continued through my career.
What do you like to do when you’re not playing football?
Nigel Reo-Coker: Just spend time with my family and my friends. I’m very simple.