In his first column for Prost Amerika, Vancouver Whitecaps midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker reveals what attracted him about MLS before he had a concrete offer and then how Martin Rennie’s drive convinced him that Vancouver was the place to be.
He outlines his first reaction to his new city and admits to being somewhat noisy in the locker room.
MLS is the only league in the world that has the room to grow
by Nigel Reo-Coker
I have always been an admirer of the MLS league from afar. It’s a league that’s always been in the back of my mind from a long time ago. It was great to be given the opportunity to come here and showcase my talent.
The MLS as I have said many times is the only league in the world that has the room to grow and become one of the biggest in the world. It has all the ingredients and resources in place to really become a dominant league in world football.
I love the physical and demanding side of the league. It’s so competitive and athletically demanding. Make no mistake there are no easy games in this league. That’s what makes it even more competitive. On their day any team can beat any other team.
That’s great for the fans and people who follow the league, when you know you can watch a game and not easily predict the outcome. What is especially different is that you don’t know that the league won’t be dominated by the same 3 or 4 teams again and again.
It reminds me of my childhood when my coach told me a saying that I have never forgotten, “it’s a funny old game.” That saying means to me anything is possible in a football match. Anything can happen.
Champions can be defeated and new champions can be crowned. MLS embodies that in a world where many leagues are becoming more predictable.
LIFE IN VANCOUVER
Vancouver is an amazing city; a world recognised city. The weather patterns are very similar to London but not the views. Let’s just say Vancouver wins out in a scenery contest. It truly is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and the people here are so friendly. I have been very fortunate to travel in my life with work and football and have seen many cities but not a city like Vancouver.
London is a very multi-cultural city with many great vibes and is a unique city in the world in its own right. Like Vancouver it rains a lot, so I’m used to the rainy days.
As a child in London most of my early football memories were playing football in the streets, the concrete jungle as sociologists called it. Playing in the front of my house whether it was in the Elephant and Castle or Thornton Heath, it always had to be in front of the house. Thanks mum.
There are great open spaces and greenery here for the young Vancouver children to play so they are very lucky.
“Joe Cannon and I are the loudmouths of the group”
My team mates are a ‘great bunch of lads’ as you would say coming from England. We have a great dressing room. We are a quiet group with the exception of myself and Joe of course.
We are the loud mouths of the group. The daddies of the dressing room as we would say.
There is a great abundance of talent in the squad we have at this club and I’m a really excited to see how these young men develop and where there career will take them. Since I have joined they have all been very welcoming to me and accommodating.
To win championships in any sport I believe a lot of that comes from team spirit. If you have a fantastic team spirit where everyone goes to war for one another, then you’re more than half way there. I couldn’t have asked for anymore from my team mates since I have been here.
A lot of my close friends and football friends from England were surprised at my decision to go to the MLS so early.
The bad negative thing about the league is that a few people see it as a retirement league. It’s an image the league needs to get rid of. So with me coming at the age of 28, I hope will help people realise that you can come here as a professional heading into his prime and still experience very competitive football.
The league would be better rewarding younger players coming through than paying players who have passed their best and come here to wind down there career. These are just my opinions. I really do believe the league could be something great.
I am still nowhere near my prime. I feel I won’t reach that as a player until I am in my 30’s. Different players hit their peak as a footballer at different ages in my view. Unless you have the god given gift like Lionel M and Ronaldo.
How Martin Rennie Sold me on the Whitecaps
To make the decision to come here was made even easier with having Martin Rennie as the manager. He is a young hungry manager who wants to win and also develop players.
He thirsts for knowledge of the game and also a championship, he is ambitious and positive, and as a man he is a great individual.
Speaking to him on the phone and the few conversations we had in advance of my signing, only made my decision easier. We are both striving for the same things in football and he and his staff are all great to work with.
We have a great foundation here to really build on and take this club to great heights.
Now I am here, having him as a manager and working with him first hand is great. I love his drive and ambition. He will lead this club to great things. He also has a great back room staff.
We are four games into the season and from a personal view I feel we have had a good start so far. In my many years of playing you learn a lot about football and the game. We have played well in every game so far and created chances. That’s a great positive to take from this early on in the season. If we were not creating chances and not playing well it will be a whole different story.
I’m sure and I believe we will have a great season and continue to develop and grow as a team.