Q&A: Pat Phelan (professional football player)

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We’re happy to introduce Pat Phelan, American football (soccer) player and Fieldoo power user.

Pat played in MLS for Toronto FC, New England Revolution and in Europe for Finnish SJK. He also played for the USA U-18, U-20 and U- 23 national teams, and was part of the squad for the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship. In exclusive interview Pat talks about his beginnings, Major League Soccer (MLS), playing against Rooney, Beckham and Henry, Fieldoo and much more.

Describe yourself as footballer? How do you remember your beginnings? Why football at all?
I’ve wanted to be a professional footballer my entire life. I never pictured myself doing anything but playing the game. I actually grew up playing hockey but switched to football at age 4 and never looked back. My parents got me interested in the game and my interest sort of took off. For them it was a much less expensive sport compared to hockey.

What’s your biggest football success so far? (Which football achievement makes you most proud of?)
I’ve won a lot of big games, played against some great teams and players, but for me the biggest success was at the collegiate level. My final year at Wake Forest University we won the National Championship, the first in the school’s history. For me it was very special because it was 4 years in the making. It was also special considering the school was very challenging academically so to balance both academics and athletics, and to be successful at both, was a very big deal.

You’ve been playing in MLS for years. How do you see the competiveness and quality of MLS?
MLS is growing very quickly. I know Americans are eager to say it’s becoming one of the best leagues in the world but it’s not there yet. Still, the league has only been around for 17 years so to be at the current level is a big achievement. The competitiveness is very high and the quality is improving quickly. You see that popular players want to come play here. MLS is also very different from other leagues because of the travel. As it stands, a team on the west coast or east coast has up to six, six-hour flights to away games per season. The travel wears heavy on the body so it makes it more difficult to perform well. I think as American soccer continues to develop its own identity, MLS will reflect that growth.

Pat Phelan vs. Wayne Rooney

Pat Phelan vs. Wayne Rooney (Photo credit: Mail Online)

You played against Manchester United with New England Revolution and players like Rooney, Beckham and other top class players. What makes them so special? 
You hear it a lot growing up from different coaches that the best players do the simple things better than everyone else and that’s true. Whether it’s the pace of a pass, passing to the correct foot, making a small movement to gain a yard of space, the great players know how to play efficiently. I used to run around and get so exhausted by the end of the game until I began realizing how to play smarter. It’s tough to name one player as the best I’ve played against. I think certain players play their positions very well. Wayne Rooney is a fantastic attacking midfielder and has great movement off the ball. Thierry Henry is a very intelligent striker and so calm in the final third. David Beckham is very good at reading the direction of a player’s run and putting the ball into that space. I try to take a little information from every great player and apply it to my game.

Fieldoo.com is Football Career Network for players & agents. Fieldoo is growing rapidly and counts with players from 80+ countries. How do you see the idea?
Football is becoming more globalized than ever and there is so much talent that goes unseen. I think a centralized networking database of players and agents is a great idea and will help to put everyone on a level playing field. I also highlight the importance of networking because you can only play for so long. Life goes on after your playing career is over so it’s important to have connections to help transition into another career.

Who would your pick: Leo Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo? Why?
Messi hands down. Ronaldo has the greatest combination of skill and athleticism but to me he’s too much into himself. He’s a selfish player and a drama queen. Messi plays for the team and understands that if the team is playing well, every player looks good. He is a very unselfish player and works for his teammates. He also seems very humble and more down to earth than Ronaldo.

Last question: do you remember the funniest thing ever happened to you on a football field?
When I was a very young player, maybe 7 or 8, at the time where you play every position on the field, I remember dribbling by the goalkeeper on a breakaway only to have my shoelace get caught on the stud of my other shoe. With nothing left to do but pass the ball into an empty net I fell flat on my face and the ball rolled out of bounds for a goal kick. I don’t think I’ve ever been so embarrassed. I’m sure all the parents watching thought it was hilarious, even mine!

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