Regional Director, USA Sport Group.
Many soccer players have made the trip across the Atlantic to play in the States; Robbie Keane, Barry Robson and David Beckham to name a few. However moving from GB to the US is not a new phenomenon, with many stars in the 60s and 70s choosing ‘soccer’ over ‘football’ during their career. And one of the most prominent, and most successful of those, was Rodney Marsh.
Rodney’s career started in West London at Fulham FC, but in 1966 he moved down the road to play for the mighty Queens Park Rangers. His six years at the club have ingrained Marsh into QPR legacy; scoring in the League Cup final for QPR’s (to date) only piece of silverware, and gaining promotion to the First Division. Playing alongside players such as Les Allen, Dave Clement and Terry Venables, Marsh was the instigator of QPR’s Golden Era and is forever remembered by Hoops fans, scoring 106 goals in 211 games.
Marsh was signed by Malcolm Allison at Manchester City in 1972 and instantly became a hit, despite the team losing their grip on the title that season. He was also included in the England squad during this time, making nine appearances for the senior team. It was in 1976, after a disagreement with the new manager, that Rodney swapped North West England for South East America, moving to play for the Tampa Bay Rowdies in the National American Soccer League. In his first season at the club, he became an instant star of the States, and after a brief return to England to play alongside friends George Best and Bobby Moore at Fulham again, he went on to play three more seasons for the Rowdies, scoring a total of 53 goals for the club.
Marsh quickly made the transition from player to coach as he took charge of New York United, Carolina Lightnin’ and the Tampa Bay Rowdies over a period of 6 years. During his illustrious career, Marsh showed he could kick it with the best of them on both sides of the Atlantic and coach a new generation of stars too. But how did he cope with the different styles of play between England and America? What advice can he offer you as a soccer player? And most importantly, how does he think QPR are going to perform this season…? I caught up with Rodney for an exclusive Q&A for United Soccer Academy:
Emma: What was the biggest difference you found between the NASL and the English league?
Rodney: The American players were a bit naïve, but they were very willing to absorb coaching points.
Emma: What one piece of advice would you give to the players we coach to help them achieve their potential?
Rodney: Try to have 500 touches on the ball every single day.
Emma: Who was the greatest player you ever played with in the UK?
Rodney: George Best.
Emma: Who was the greatest player you ever played with in the United States?
Emma: You’ve been incredibly busy since retiring from playing soccer, but do you ever miss it?
Rodney: Yes! When you’ve been a soccer player, everything else doesn’t even come close.
Emma: You are from London but currently living in Tampa Bay, so what do you prefer?
Rodney: I love Tampa & America.
Emma: As an ex-England international, what is your opinion to the new management team, and the young, up and coming, playing squad?
Rodney: I’m very positive, but we need to change our youth coaching philosophy before we can really move forward.
Emma: On twitter (@RodneyMarsh10) you are currently naming three players from each team as the greatest ever… Who would you name for the USA?
Rodney: Clint Dempsey, Brad Freidel and Roy Wegerle.
Emma: Who is your top pick for the 2012/13 Premier League trophy?
Rodney: Manchester City, I think they’ll win it again.
Emma: As a QPR fan myself, how do you think this season will go for us?
Rodney: It will be difficult but I think we will make an improvement on last season.
Emma: And finally, what’s the best piece of advice you have ever been given, either as a player, or a coach?
Rodney: Just be yourself…
To find out more about Rodney’s career and current projects, visit www.rodneymarsh.net.