Matt Wilson, “a dynamic, box-to-box midfielder”
Matt Watson (photo from Getty Images) has recently joined the Indy Eleven American professional soccer team. Most recently, Matt Watson played for Phoenix Rising Football Club. He has also played for various teams including Chicago Fire and the North Carolina Football Club.
Matt was kind enough to answer some questions for me.
What helped you get discovered?
I would say the skills that helped me become a pro are the fact I enjoy the physical game, I enjoy tackling and shoulder to shoulder challenges and pursuing the ball and chasing people down. I gained a lot of that from playing in England and it’s something i still enjoy to this day.
I’m also a pretty well rounded player. I don’t really have any exceptional areas to my game but I’m pretty decent at most areas. Earlier in my career it was my ability to go by players and run in behind the strikers. I don’t do that as much anymore but I still enjoy it from time to time.
Finally, I’d say running. I’m pretty fit, can cover a lot of ground and have a pretty good work ethic.
How were you discovered?
I was playing for my local Sunday league team in England, I got spotted by some scouts from Wolverhampton Wanderers FC and got a trial there. I signed with the team from 14 – 19 years old. That’s probably where I saw the biggest growth in my game.
I didn’t make the first team and got released at 19, but the FA had a program where US college soccer coaches could watch players play in some games, and I was offered scholarships to play in the US.
I opted for UMBC. I was there for a couple of years before I decided I wasn’t improving and left and ended up signing with a pro indoor team. They loaned me out to Richmond in the USL and I had a decent season there and that was it really. I never looked back.
What position do you play? What qualities do you feel are most important for that position?
I’ve basically always played centre-midfield. The most important attributes for the position are probably ball retention, high work rate, communication and a presence on the field.
But, it varies. Earlier in my career I played attacking mid. You get more license to get forward and dribble and make mistakes when trying to create.
I think I’m more of a number 8 center mid. For that you have to play from box-to-box. You do a bit of everything, cover for your teammates, play all over the field. You also get the ball a lot, you’re always involved.
Last year I played center defensive mid, also referred to as the number 6. It involves more breaking up plays and shielding the ball into the strikers and finding the creative midfielders when you have the ball.
Matt Watson: advice for young players
What advice would you give to the serious player who hopes to play professionally?
The advice I give to almost everyone, which can be generally applied not just to soccer but throughout life is… it’s mostly about hard work.
I’m a pro because when I was young, I played soccer almost every free moment I had. I would be outside, by myself for hours, juggling, kicking balls against the walls, making up one player soccer games.
Otherwise I was playing with my friends. Every break and lunch break at school I’d play. In high school, I skipped lunch every day to play straight away, so I didn’t waste a second.
I’ve seen players with more talent than me not succeed because they didn’t work hard. You get out of it whatever you put in. It’s a cliche but it’s so true. Once you have that, you will see success on the field and then your performance will do the talking for you.
Finally, don’t give up. You might get told you’re not good enough 100 times but you just need one opportunity.