2. At what age did you start playing soccer? How did you get introduced to soccer? I was about 4 years old when I started playing soccer at my local YMCA. My mother put me in soccer because she said I was a “high energy child” and it was a great way for me to run around and expend some energy. At the time it wasn’t anything serious, it was just for fun.
3. What other sports did you play? And, if you played other sports, did you drop them at any point to concentrate only on soccer? I was as much as an all-american boy as you can imagine. I played hockey, basketball, baseball, football; I wrestled and ran track. But at about 14, I gave up on almost all other sports and concentrated only on soccer. Not only because I loved it the most (by far), but it was the sport I was best at. (I ran track and wrestled in high school only so I could help stay fit for soccer.)
4. What youth clubs did you play for? I started my competitive soccer career at the Plymouth Kicks, our local youth travel team. At about 13 I switched clubs to the Michigan Wolves (now named Columbus Crew Wolves I believe)) and played in the Premier League (US Youth Soccer) until the Academy league started up. I played with the Derby County Wolves Academy team for 3 years, up until I was 18.
5. What position do you currently play? At what age did you specialize in that position? I am currently an outside midfielder/winger and also have played professionally as an outside right back. I started as an outside midfielder at 16 for the Wolves because I was always a striker before, but, at the time we had a lot of big name youth soccer players join our club who were also strikers (Soony Saad, Jordon Tyler, Reed Losse) so my coach asked me if I could move to outside midfield because I was the only player versatile enough to play the position. So I agreed and started my career there.
6. Inspiration/Influence to play (who)? I never had a soccer icon I followed. I knew of some players but never any professionals I ever watched and wanted to be like. I played because I loved it. No other motivation besides that.
7. Favorite cleat? Favorite cleat right now are the latest Nike Vapors. Wouldn’t wear any other shoe than that.
8. What club do you currently play for? I currently play and start for the 2 time defending Norwegian champions Molde FK in the first division in Norway.
9. At what age did you start mixing with the USMNT program? How did you get introduced to the USMNT program? (was it through club, ODP, Molde, manager, etc.) At the youth system, I was never a national team player; it was only once I turned pro at 18 when I was playing in Austria in the second division that I received my first call in to the U-20 World Cup team. That call up launched my United States career.
10. Favorite Spongebob character? How can you choose a favorite Spongebob character?? Everyone on that show just cracks me up!!!
11. If you were a superhero, what would be your best 2 powers? (fly, fire, ice, teleport, talk to animals, mad ninja skills, speed, weather, mind
reading, etc.) Well based on how I am now, I would assume I’d have super speed and if I could choose a second it would be to heal instantly, so i’d never have to worry about injury or pain and could always be playing.
12. How/why did you decide to play soccer in Europe? As a young boy I decided at about 14 I was gonna play soccer in Europe professionally. It’s all I ever wanted to do, and it’s all I ever told my parents I was going to do. I never had any other plans but to play soccer in Europe. It was my goal/dream and I achieved it the summer before my senior year of high school. Me and 20 other hopeful young American boys took a trip to Europe to trial with professional clubs in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Belgium because our coach at the time, Jon Spencer with the Orange County Blue Stars, saw potential in all of us to make it in Europe. Needless to say the trials went very well for me and I got offered contracts to sign with clubs in Germany and in Austria. I went with Austria because it was a first team contract and it meant I was going to play real first team games. Which is a huge experience for an 18-year-old american boy.
13. As a professional footballer, on a weekly basis, how much time do you spend working out, training, playing, etc.? (compared to, say, a 40 hour week) I would say based on my schedule I play now, we work everyday of the week for about 5 hours total a day, so it is about a 35 hour work week.
14. Can you compare the passion for soccer in Austria and Norway versus, say, Michigan or the States? No, you cannot compare the passion the Europeans have for soccer with anything in the states. For them it is not a game, it’s a religion, a passion, it is what most of their lives revolve around. There is no comparison for the amount of passion Europeans have for soccer.
15. In 10 years, you will be ____________?
In 10 years I will still be playing soccer, around the prime of my career, playing for the best clubs in the world and slowly working my way towards retirement.
16. Your Wikipedia says you run the 100 meters in 11 seconds — have you always been fast? Do you do anything to improve your speed? I have always been very fast, with age I’ve gotten faster because I have grown taller and have gotten stronger. But unless it is natural it is impossible to improve ones’ speed, but you can improve your acceleration and I have worked on improving and have improved that significantly.
17. Can you describe the feeling of your first professional goal? How many matches did it take to score? My first professional goal was in Austria about 5 months into my career. I’ll always remember it. But it will hopefully be one of many goals I score throughout my life. It was an amazing thing to have happen but every goal feels as good as the first. No matter if it’s my first or 40th, it will always give me the same explosive joy it always has given me.
18. Was it hard to move to Europe at age 19? Has language been a problem? It was very hard to move alone to Europe at such a young age, the language barrier did not make it any easier. Most people at my club could speak some english but living in a place where you don’t understand much of what was going on is tough, I had to learn a lot quickly and there were many days where I thought I couldn’t make it. But I toughened up and stuck it out, and it was the best decision I have ever made in my entire life.
19. Favorite norwegian food and treat? Salmon is the best norwegian food there is, because of how fresh it is. Treat wise well… I leave that to my mother to send me some american treats. Nothing will ever beat out homemade american cookies. haha
20. How often did you play soccer when you were 7? 8? 9? 10?… Around that time I played almost every day, If not with a team than by myself in my backyard for hours. It wasn’t hard for me to motivate myself. I loved doing it, I wanted to play, and I had fun playing.
21. Best FIFA player on the USMNT — where do you rank? I haven’t spent a lot of time playing my USMNT teammates in Fifa, but when I have, I have normally won every game. I’d have to say I am at least top 5 out of all the players.
22. What advice can you give to young players who want to follow your path? My advice to any young man who wants to follow my footsteps, dream big, believe in yourself, know what makes you special and never for a second doubt that ability, and most importantly, have fun! If you take it to seriously at a young age you will burn yourself out and start resenting the sport! Play because you want to, not because you have too, love every second you can play because whether you play for 30 years or 30 minutes, make sure its the happiest moment of your life right then and there.
You can follow Josh @JoshuaGatt
His team site: Molde FK (good luck with the language!)
His league (Norwegian Top Division) The League Winners for this division (called the Tippeligaen) enter then UEFA Champions League in the Second Round of Qualifying (summer qualifying). This season, Molde beat Sligo on aggregate 3-0 to advance to the Third Round. In the first Leg of the 3rd Round, they tied Legia at 1-1 (so, they conceded an away goal). Their next game is August 7 in Poland. They need to at least score 1 goal. If they advance through the 3rd Round, there is one more Round (Playoffs) before they make it into the final Group Stage for Champions League. The Playoffs to set up the final groups are played on August 20,21 and the final leg on the 27th. Here is a link to the playoff schedule and information for Molde FK. Molde FK qualified for the Champions League by winning the top division in Norway.
Thanks Josh! We will be rooting for your fast recovery and successful career!