Michael Emenalo's appointment at Chelsea is a great testimonial for the collegiate and professional game here in the United States.
Jide Alaka writes about the journey of the former Boston University and Major League Soccer standout that has now led to Stamford Bridge.
Emenalo played college soccer in America at Boston University from 1986 to 1989. He led Boston University to a 54-17-11 record over his four years, scoring 36 goals along with 32 assists. Emenalo was named All-New England all four seasons. He was inducted into the Boston University Athletic Hall of Fame in 1998.
From there, he moved to Belgium to turn out for Molenbeek, Eintracht Trier in Germany and Notts County in England before returning to the USA to take up coaching and academy work at the Tucson Soccer Academy. He started out as a volunteer coach with Virginia Tech University in 2004. He was under Oliver Weiss who led the team into the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2005.
Emenalo was a pioneer player in the revamped Major League Soccer (MLS) where he was one of the allocated players. He spent two seasons with the San Jose Clash. After that, he played in the Spanish Segunda with Lleida who then had Juande Ramos as coach. He continued his football sojourn to Israel to play for Maccabi Tel Aviv, where he met Avram Grant in 1997.
Emenalo's coaching philosophy has always been about enlisting young talents.
That was one of the reasons he joined the Tucson Football Academy in the USA.
On the academy site, Emenalo wrote: "Pre-formation" training; which ensures that the player, at a formative age, is presented with the right soccer information and training before bad habits, and inexperienced coaching set in.
"Specifically, the pre-formation training will consist of teaching, first and often, the individual techniques and comfort on the ball that will enable a young player to keep ahead of the curve. It is our collective experience that a young player cannot excel in soccer unless he/she can completely master and dominate the ball. To gain that mastery, it is crucial to start early.
"It is also our intention to recreate the "street soccer" credential (which, in the distant past, was the championed way for kids to hone their individual skills) by providing a safe, fun and culturally relevant environment that encourages more spontaneity and freedom of expression with the ball."