It's not every day you get the opportunity to speak with and learn from a goalkeeper who has trained in a Premier League environment. We were lucky enough to get the opportunity to ask former Reading FC and Huddersfield Town goalkeeper Gabe Rosario about his experiences so far in the early stages of his career. He gave us some great insight about both American and English academies as well as some great advice for young goalkeepers considering making the professional jump. Check out the full interview below!
Growing up with a former professional soccer player as a father, was soccer always your main focus? How do you think his experience has helped pave your journey so far?
Soccer has definitely been my top priority since i was old enough to have any. I started playing when I was 8 mostly because i was always around it. My dad was a youth soccer coach and it was a good way to lose some weight, but clearly i fell in love with it!
My dad has always been a massive factor in my progression in soccer. He has always been an amazing example for me; telling me to have passion and love for the sport and itll love you right back! Also, not to mention, he is always there to speak to about any hardships or advice or just simply to learn from.
You came up through the Carolina Rapids Development Academy. What was your biggest take away from your academy experience? Positives or negatives?
During my time at the Rapids Academy, I had a lot of really unique experiences. I got the amazing opportunity to work under my father for a year and Kevin Flanagan for a few years after that. I also worked under a lot of coaches that didnt understand me as a person or my passion for the game. A lot of my teammates were never as serious as I was and as a result some of my coaches left me out of the team sheet. Although it might sound negative, I'm happy I gained that experience. It really helped me understand even more that soccer was something i loved above almost everything else.
At what point did playing professionally go from a dream to an attainable goal for you?
There was never really a moment when I thought that it wasnt attainable but thats mostly because i was young and naïve. Over time there were a few moments that made me think that i was getting closer. The first was when i was 13 and i got invited to an academy all star select game in front of National Team scouts; that was definitely a special moment for me. The second one was when I recieved an invite to go on trial to Reading FC the following year and they told me they were going to offer me a scholarship contract. In the following years after moving to England and training there, I realized how difficult it would be to reach my goal. This was very exciting for me. Finally, my most recent event that kind of told me i was creeping closer to my goal was getting called to a US U-18 National Team camp.
Like many youth soccer players in the United States, I'm sure you considered going to college to play soccer and further your education. What were some of the pros/cons that helped you make your decision?
I did breifly consider going to college after receiving some offers. I contemplated it but quickly decided that going to England and training with Reading FC full time was right for me. This was mostly a combination of gut feeling and the fact that I didnt want to continue splitting my focus between school and soccer.
After your last season with the Rapids Academy, you went over to England to join Reading's youth ranks. What were some of the immediate differences you noticed between Reading's academy and the US youth academies?
Personally, for me, there were 3 major differences:
- Soccer is a lifestyle; they live and breathe soccer every waking moment. The academy system in England is elite; it was on a level I didn't experience here in America. They tracked your food intake, your health, and your mental state among other things.
- The speed of play and preparation was much more intense. Their practices were competitive and physical but still very controlled.
- The facilities were immaculate. The pitches in England were a beautiful sight, with a groundsman crew taking care of them 24/7.
What were some of your biggest adjustments, both on and off the field, during your transition from American youth soccer to life at Reading?
The biggest change was the fact that I wasnt at home anymore. I was alone with no family or friends. The way of life in England is very different, i didnt know how their public transport worked or how different the food would be. Also, they went to train every morning so instead of school i was at the training ground from 8 to 4 just like having a job.
Once your time with Reading was done, you signed with Premier League side Huddersfield Town. Describe how this move came about and what it was like to join a side competing at the highest level in England?
I was released by Reading at the end of my scholarship and I found myself on trial for Huddersfield. They ended up signing me very similar to how I signed with Reading. Training with Huddersfield was an amazing experience, getting to train with a premier league side at 18. That is rare and such a valuable experience I could learn from.
What are some of your biggest takeaways from your time training at Huddersfield? You worked with some very experienced goalkeepers; what tips did you get from them to help you develop your game?
While I was at Huddersfield, my biggest takeaway wasn't actually anything on the field. In fact, I actually had a poor year at Huddersfield. Off the field, I had many hardships mentally and I got to grow from dealing with that which has helped me mature.
Being so young and navigating the professional ranks, what advice would you give other young goalkeepers looking to follow in your footsteps?
The best tip I could give to any young keeper or any young person is be willing to learn from anyone and anything. Every experience can be a lesson to make you better so keep a positive attitude and keeep your mind focused on the bigger picture.
Last but not least, who has a better first touch...you or your father?
Such a silly question; it is clearly me and if he tries to say otherwise, he is lying