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A Road Less Traveled

An American manager begins his career in Slovenia.
Started on 22 October 2016 by Greyfriars Bobby
Latest Reply on 26 October 2016 by Greyfriars Bobby
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(I'm back, with a story I'll begin with the beta version of FM17.)

A Road Less Traveled

I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
-Robert Frost

Chris Keohane's story was not a dramatic one, a tale of a promising career cut down in its prime by a horrible injury. He simply decided he wanted to stop playing football and begin teaching other men how to do it instead.

Chris was the son of an American diplomat who was born in Lljubljana while his father was posted there, when Slovenia was still part of the former nation of Yugoslavia. Chris barely remembered his days there, because he and his family returned to the States when he was five years old.

He attended high school in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C., where he played the sport Americans call "soccer" well enough to earn the opportunity to play in college. Also an excellent student, Chris loved his years at Stanford University, and his accomplishments there drew the attention of Major League Soccer. After he completed his career with the Cardinal, he played seven seasons in MLS, most notably with Portland.

Then, at age 30, he decided to hang up his boots.

Chris had begun to study for his coaching badges while he was still playing for Portland, and he soon discovered how much he enjoyed this aspect of the game. Unmarried, and without responsibilities to a family, Chris was free to pursue his new career wherever it might lead.

It led him back to the land of his birth, now the nation of Slovenia. That's where Chris's story will begin. I hope we'll all enjoy the journey, wherever it might lead.

"An American footballer sending unsolicited letters to clubs in Slovenia, inquiring about coaching positions? No, Chris, that's not the least bit unusual."

The voice of reason was that of John Wesley Stone, Chris's best friend. John Wesley (he insisted on being called by both names) had been Chris's roommate at Stanford. He didn't play football, and he wouldn't have followed it at all had he not made friends with a footballer. John Wesley lived in Seattle, a rare Timbers fan in Sounders country, and taught science to seventh and eighth graders at an independent school.

"If you know of a better way to break into Slovenian football, please don't hesitate to suggest it," Chris replied.

As it turned out, Chris's strategy ended up working out just fine. He received an invitation from NK Olimpija Ljubljana, one of Slovenia's top clubs, to join their coaching staff--as a volunteer. That was, of course, contingent on Chris's ability to find a way to pay his living expenses in the Slovenian capital.

Once again, Chris got lucky. During their stay in Ljubljana, Chris's parents had befriended a Slovenian couple, Darko and Petra Djuranovic, with whom they had remained in contact over the years. When the Djuranovices heard about Chris's plans, they offered to let him live in a spare bedroom. One problem, solved; with no rent to pay, Chris might be able to get by for some time, since he'd saved a decent amount of his MLS salary. So, on a blustery day in March 2014, Chris boarded a plane for Ljubljana, and his coaching saga began.

Chris impressed the Olimpija bosses enough that, before the 2014/15 season ended, he received an offer for a paying position on the staff. He accepted it without hesitation; he loved it there, and he loved living in Slovenia even more. Chris spent the next two seasons on the Olimpija staff, and would have been perfectly content to stay there had an even more enticing opportunity not opened up: the chance to manage a club of his own.

The boss at NS Drava Ptuj, a club in the Slovenian Second Division, was retiring at the end of the season. Chris applied for the position and was hired, so in the summer of 2016, he said "so long" to the Djuranovices and made his way to the old town of Ptuj.

June 2016

Drava, as Chris Keohane's new club was usually known, were founded in 2004 as the successor to an older, similarly named club. The new club used their predecessor's founding date on its badge, even though they were officlally a brand-new organization.

The club played at Mestni stadion, which is Slovene for "City Stadium." Built in 1955, the grounds held 4000 spectators, with seating for about half of them.

The town of Ptuj was in northeastern Slovenia, and was home to about 17,000 people. Chris quickly felt at home in Ptuj, which was the oldest town in Slovenia, dating back to the time of the Romans. He found an apartment conveniently located within a short drive of the grounds.

The club president, Dario Andjelkovic, and its director, Janus Grbic, offered Chris a one-year contract which paid him €3300/month. Chris felt that was reasonable; he was being paid as well as any manager in the Slovenian Second Division.

Tomorrow, he would appear at the grounds for the first time as manager of NS Drava Ptuj. The first step toward making his dreams come true was before him.
Nice looking town, hopefully Chris can do well in his new job
2016-10-22 21:24#237908 ninjaskill : Nice looking town, hopefully Chris can do well in his new job

I hope so too. I'm wondering if I should keep going with this game in the Beta version, or put it on hold until the actual release on 4 November. I'm really enjoying it, and I'm a little worried about a crash ruining the save while I'm playing with the Beta version.

Thanks for stopping by, ninjaskill.
Good luck mate, this will be interesting to say the least!
2016-10-24 15:38#237960 mgriffin2012 : Good luck mate, this will be interesting to say the least!

Thanks mate. I'm trying to make myself go slowly right now, while I wait for the full version of the game to be released. It's not easy, because I'm anxious to play!

I've been distracted by a Create-A-Club save I've started, too. It's a lot of fun, and there are times I wish I'd picked that one for the subject of my story.

You are reading "A Road Less Traveled".

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