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Diary of a Pro Footballer: How I Ended Up Playing In Moldova

by Rohan Ricketts
8 January 2011 22 Comments

This transfer window, the much-travelled Rohan Ricketts will join a new club but wherever it is, it won't match Moldova for pure randomness. This is Rohan's story of how he ended up playing in one of the poorest countries in Europe.

Rohan, how the heck did you end up in MOLDOVA?? That’s the question I have been asked most of the time within the last month or so. Some have even said, why did I choose to go to Moldova. I must tell you all, it was definitely not on my wish list of places to come and ply my trade. As every player wants to play at the highest level and I am no different. Me being here had more to do with things such as agents and their false promises, coupled with my poor judgement of character in choosing an agent to find me a club.

Since I left Toronto FC in August 2009, it has been an absolute nightmare trying to get settle at a club and start to work my way back to the level I want to play at. I remember leaving Toronto, I thought I would walk back into a Championship side at least, based on my talent and the fact that I was hungry to come back and show what I can do. Little did I know most if not all English sides did not respect the fact that I had gone to play in the MLS. Some clubs, Peterborough being one, questioned if I was good enough for a trial. I thought that was crazy but hey, everyone is entitled to their opinion.

Turns out that the same club that i was not good enough for a trial for got their asses spanked and got relegated that year. As time past and I went to Aberdeen where I thought it was a done deal after making an impressive showing in front of the Aberdeen fans at the KC stadium in a pre season game against Hull City. Mark McGhee tried his best but unfortunately they did not have the finances at the time to push the deal through (Setanta had just gone under). It was funny as I remember speaking to my friends saying ” Yo, this is it …I like it here and there is a role for me in the side ” hahahaha 7 days later Mark pulls me in the office to tell me that his budget is not gonna allow him to sign me at the precise moment. Even the Aberdeen faithful were bemused. Which resulted in them trying to contact me for answers.

In the end I ended up going to Canada to reassemble myself and see what would be the next best thing to do for my career, as I could see that the recession had effected some of the budgets of the smaller clubs. In the end I got in contact with the father of Marton Fulop (Ipswich Town), Frank Fulop. He ended up finding me a club in the Hungarian premier league. I went over there in Feb 2010 and signed a 5 month deal until the end of the season.

“I thought I would walk back into a Championship side at least, little did I know most if not all English sides did not respect the fact that I had gone to play in the MLS.”

What a deal that turned out to be hahahaha…The buggers did not want to pay the players our salary for the last 3 months and to make things worse we had 3 managers in 4 months. Talk about not knowing whats going to happen tomorrow, hahaha. You have to laugh at it as if you allow those matters to consume you it can really piss you off and deter your focus from your game and your general happiness.

May I say, there are players going through this type of situation as you are reading this! So some of you may want to be mindful before you say such things as, “footballers” should keep their mouths shut and be grateful as we have the dream job. Not everyone is in the position that the media portrays of a football player. Some people have giving everything to make a career and then a club may only want to give you a 6 month contract in return. This is the HARSH reality of the industry in the current climate which you are not exposed to.

On from Hungary I had some time off which I spent in Toronto, co hosting a radio show for the World Cup and appearing on other sports networks as a guest analyst. During this time frame I was told by a few agents that the definitely would have contracts on the table for me come mid to late June. I like most of you guys took their words and committed to being patient until the proposed dates. Before I knew it those dates had come and gone and I was still in Toronto in mid July – not good.

I had turned down trials because an agent would tell me I was going to get a formal offer in the morning. Me like a right prat I allowed myself to listen to these slick talkers. This left me without a club during a time when most teams worldwide are either 2 weeks into the pre season training (Europe) or in the middle of their season (MLS and Asia). I could not afford to waste any more time, which would have an effect on my general match fitness.

“I was told by a few agents that the definitely would have contracts on the table for me come mid to late June. Before I knew it those dates had come and gone and I was still in Toronto in mid July – not good.”

I was then sitting in a cottage with my loved ones in a rural part of Toronto called Algonquin Park, when I got an email from an agent (Leonid Shatan) saying he had a deal for me in Moldova. I heard Moldova and thought “Errrr no, where the hell is this MOLDOVA?” Excuse my ignorance but I am sure none of you guys knew/know where it is. I spoke with my family and decided it was in my best interest to compromise where I wanted to initially go and just get on the plane and get my ass to Moldova to get playing. Time waits for no man!

When I first arrived I was a tad cautious of what to expect from the country and the level of football. Now I am training and playing, I can see that its not the level that I am use to, but I have a job to do and I must utilise where I am to get where I want to get back to. Simple as that. I hope that if any up and coming or present players happen to read this article it motivates them to be brave enough to get out of their comfort to go and apply their craft in a foreign land in hope of getting back to where they want to be. I see so many players just continue to go down the leagues in England and never look at playing abroad as an option.

A prime example of this island mentality, is displayed by a mate of mine Alton Thelwell. Tottenham fans will be very familiar with him. Well they were! He made his debut either before or at the same time as Ledley King (my fav english centre back) and went on to make 18 first team appearances. I bet you 99% of Spurs fans have no idea where Alton is. Well I will break the news to you, Kettering Town in the conference. I speak to him now and again and he admits that he should have tried to play overseas a long time ago.

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Keith Wildman 1:27 pm, 2-Sep-2010

Great stuff Rohan. PLenty of players have dropped out of the game completely, so it's nice to see someone who's prepared to travel the world, rather than move to the nearest local non-league club to get their career back on track.

Neil Thomson 4:13 pm, 2-Sep-2010

Best of luck in Moldova I have spent time there as a photo-journalist and it is a very poor and depressed place but I know they love football and the people are wonderfull.

Ricky 8:26 pm, 2-Sep-2010

The agents seem to be suspect to say the least. Is the option there to phone the clubs throughout the MLS or in the Championship and ask if they would be interested in your services and to send out your CV? I'm a Toronto FC season ticket holder and remember your time at the club. Glad to see your continuing to play. Theres only so many years you can play at any level so may as well keep playing while you can.

Andy 8:26 pm, 2-Sep-2010

I think it is a shame that you are using this, and your other blog to whinge in public. Do you not realise that these blogs are going to have a a detrimental effect on your effort to get back to the level you want to play at? "I thought I would walk back into a Championship side at least, based on my talent" What manager in their right mind is going to sign a player who thinks this without the career to back it up?

EnoughIsEnough 8:34 pm, 2-Sep-2010

Fantastic post Rohan! Have you ever considered Greece as an option?

Lawrence (@ps3hothead) 9:14 pm, 2-Sep-2010

Rohan!! Great article sir!!! I can empaphise with you on a lot of the points you brought up. I joined First Artist's financial services arm - Optimal Wealth Mgt. I worked with a guy called Lee Warman and I used to look after your files. Glad to see you're keeping things moving. The media portrays football as the dream job - it can be that to some, but not all. Keep up the hard work - you'll be back where you deserve to be soon!!

Ghett0 11:06 pm, 2-Sep-2010

Ro, I would LOVE to see you playing in Germany before you retire. Even if you are playing in the third or fourth division, I can tell you there is no country on Earth which invests more in it's players and their training than the Germans. Whether it's Greuther Fürth or Rot Weiss Ahlen or Kaiserslautern, I'd love to see you test your mettle against the best players from around the world who all flock to the Bundesliga to refine their talents. Regardless of where you play or where you end up, never give up on your own footballing talent. With your determination and your mind for the game, you'll be an asset to any squad you play with.

Jay 1:08 am, 3-Sep-2010

Would you consider playing in a Latin American league?

larry parrish 1:23 am, 3-Sep-2010

>and it is a very poor and depressed place but I know >they love footbal Wait... are you talking about england or american inner cities? Because I can tell you that both are more violent and the people just plain nasty animals. Moldova might be poor but its not a violent racist cesspool like London or Detroit. Good to hear Rohan is playing ball. From what Ive seen of him, I dont think he is a tier one league or tier two players (so Greeece is definitely out and the Balkan countries get good 2nd rate brazilians as foreigners). Ricketts is Danish league caliber or Lithuania. Still, he is PLAYING ball and getting PAID for it. It might not be much but he is living the dream of millions out there and there is no such thing as a bad league....only no playing time. Thats one thing that decides what and where you go.

Burgy 4:13 am, 3-Sep-2010

I have also spent time in moldova...and i love it...what you do there, with football, can turn out to inspire so many who have so little in material things!

Manny 4:16 am, 3-Sep-2010

Damn... Is all I can say, thanks for sharing your story. I respect that you stuck it out after all you were going through, I have seen you play at Toronto and can honestly say you could at least make the team at a small club in the EPL like Wolves. To think that someone like 50 Cent actually wore your jersey before ... wow. I wish you success in your future

Sergio Rodrigues 4:20 am, 3-Sep-2010

Hey, Rohan - have you ever considered the Portuguese First Division? Teams like Maritimo, Nacional da Madeira and Guimaraes would kill for a player like you. Come January, i'd love to see you make a name in Liga Zon Sagres. Cheers, Sergio

Ian 11:25 am, 3-Sep-2010

Great read, i remember watching you on loan at Coventry and thought you were decent. Alton Thelwell had played abroad earlier, he went on loan with Peter Crouch to Sweden. Can't understand the mentality of clubs turning you down on the basis of you playing in the MLS successfully. Was there no interest from either other MLS teams or at the level below in the US?

mwarne 1:27 pm, 8-Sep-2010

I saw Alton Thelwell playing a season or so back for Leyton Orient in League One. Surprised he moved on from there as they weren't exactly bursting with talented players, particularly at the back.

tbone 1:48 pm, 8-Sep-2010

Ever think you just didn't want it enough, Rohan?

Micheal 7:38 pm, 8-Sep-2010

err, Algonguin is not part of Toronto, but of Ontario Actually Algonguin is a five hour from Toronto. I question everything else you say there Rohan !

foolszany 7:50 pm, 8-Sep-2010

great article. i wish we still had you in Toronto -- I can't believe management was foolish enough to let you go. Best of luck wherever your football career takes you.

Viz 12:11 am, 15-Sep-2010

Rohan, on the lines of Tbones comment above - were you not hungary enough, to succeed with the talent that you were born with? I saw your early games for Spurs, and you showed some great potential. I later emigrated to Toronto and then see you plying your trade with T.O...truly, no disrespect...but, what the hell happened? I can only assume that perhaps you have little fire...and are way too laid back???

Clocks 8:40 am, 25-Sep-2010

You should consider one of the scandinavian leagues. Better window than Moldova I reckon, better pay I assume and nice ladies ;-)

omololu akinnubi 5:22 am, 21-Nov-2010

Am a good footballer and i will like to play in moldova so how can i make that possible

Phil 2:51 pm, 8-Jan-2011

You should have played them at Tennis. Oh wait, someone's already done that.

David Lemon 12:41 am, 17-Jan-2011

Last we spoke man you were just heading out there. Hope it all works out for you. Cheers

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