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

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.
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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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