Talented footballer Jamie Anderson is heading Stateside to live his American dream, just five years after a serious injury threatened to shatter his hopes.
The former Excelsior Academy pupil has been snapped up by Utah State University to study for a two-year sports science degree.
Striker Jamie, 23, of Elswick, was all prepared to head to Missouri University for a sports scholarship five years ago when he broke his leg in his final match of the season, keeping him out of the game for nine months and scuppering his US plans.
But he refused to give up on his dream and will fly out to Utah next month, playing football for Utah State University as a full-time athlete while looking for openings in MLS teams.
“When I was 18 I broke my leg in the last game of the season a couple of weeks before I was due to fly out to a science college at Missouri University,” said Jamie.
“That stopped everything and I was out of football for nine months. I recovered quite well and thought I need to try again. It’s all about getting back on your feet and pushing yourself forward.”
Two metal pins in his left Tibia have not halted his footballing progress – far from it, as Jamie reckons he’s a sharper and stronger striker than before his leg break.
He’s bagged 12 goals for Newcastle Chemfica and scored for Durham City reserves – taking that form with him to a showcase game in London where he scored in a match staged by a sports recruitment company.
They emailed a highlights package of Jamie to universities across America showcasing his talents.
New York and California based universities expressed an interest in recruiting him, but he plumped for Utah which, like more and more US states, has its own MLS professional team Real Salt Lake.
“I’ve been given a 100% tuition waiver so I don’t need to pay for any of that,” said Jamie. “They’ve also helped me with my accommodation – the coach himself seemed a lot more approachable than the others and he seemed a lot more interested.
“I have to pay for expenses. I’m hoping to get a part-time coaching role while I’m out there, hopefully coaching in primary schools, doing the same thing I did at the Newcastle United Foundation where I was an apprentice, going into schools and working with children.
“If I’m performing well on the pitch out there it will open a whole new world of opportunities which is what I’m aiming for. I want to become a pro.”
Jamie’s preparing to leave his job with a payment processing company in Tyneside and to say his goodbyes to those closer to home.
“I can’t wait to go,” he said. “It’ll be different to the west end of Newcastle, my family and friends are a bit gutted that I’m going but happy for me at the same time.
“There’s a lot more opportunities out in America than there are in England. It’s hard to make it here, where over there I know friends who are out there who are playing at a high standard.
“The football out there has got a whole lot bigger. It used to be just NFL and NBA, but football is massive, the women’s game in particular is huge and Utah is renowned for its sport.”
Jamie has his own crowdfunding page https://www.gofundme.com/usascholarship which will help him subsidise some of the cost of his American dream.