Ex-Sheffield United academy star Danny Deakin was picked by Orlando City in this month’s MLS SuperDraft and spoke to the Sheffield Star following his move.
The 23-year-old played for Hansworth Boys and Sheffield Wednesday before being picked up by the Blades as a youngster. Deakin progressed though the ranks and signed as a second-year scholar, with a particular highlight being the 2011 FA Youth Cup run. The forward was part of the squad including the likes of Harry Maguire and George Long which reached the final against Manchester United.
However, Deakin was released by the Blades aged 18 and after spells in non-league he considered turning his back on football for good. But, when a family friend in USA came calling, quick decision was made to move state-side and Deakin joined University of South Carolina. The Englishman blossomed in the US and, before graduating with a criminology degree, was named in the league’s all-star team therefore putting himself on several MLS team’s radar.
Deakin spoke of the difficulties of a football/college life balance in the USA sport system:
It was good to be able to further my education in case football didn’t work out, but to play at a high level and develop my game was great. It’s so much harder to get better if you’re only training twice a week and playing on Saturdays, which is what I was doing in non-league back in England.
“Studying and playing wasn’t easy, but you have a lot of time to crack on and study because it’s not like I had to maintain a job at the same time. I guess my job was playing football for the university, and some games we’d get six or seven thousand fans watching us if we went to play a bigger school.”
The youngster had travelled around the country and trained with top MLS teams in Columbus Crew and Toronto FC but this month was the MLS SuperDraft, which may be an alien concept to many British football fans.
“It’s a fairly confusing system, and I’m no expert,” Deakin said.
“There was a stream of the draft on the MLS website and I was trying to pick it up, but I was having massive internet problems so gave up on it. Then I looked down at my phone and it started going mad with notifications. All I could see was Orlando. My dad was gobsmacked… it was a great feeling.”
— Orlando City SC (@OrlandoCitySC) January 17, 2017
Deakin now recognises the huge task he must face of professional football as he starts the new 2017 season playing alongside the likes of Brek Shea and Seb Hines, not to mention the minor midfielder that goes by the name of Kaka, but the Sheffielder finished the interview by revealing the one club in his heart.
“I know that the next level will be even faster and everyone will be technically solid on the ball. But I think that is a major part of my game, so I’m looking forward to the test and seeing where it takes me. Back to England? Who knows. I could never rule that out. Especially if the mighty Blades came calling.”