GoPlay Sports welcomes legendary goalscorer Michael King to its roster
GoPlay Sports are delighted to welcome Milwaukee Kickers’ full-time staff coach and club clinician Michael King on board as regional soccer coordinator.
Michael is no stranger to the game having enjoyed a phenomenal 22-year professional career in the indoor league in the US. Michael made 897 regular season and play-off appearances, scoring 768 goals and captained Milwaukee Wave to four championships, playing until he was 46.
Michael was a three-time all-American, inducted into the Wisconsin hall of fame and saw his number retired at numerous clubs in a career of unprecedented longevity.
We caught up with our newest recruit 'Kinger’ to chat about his career…
Where did your love of the game come from?
“I grew up in West London and Dad took me to to my first game at Stamford Bridge to watch Chelsea v Man City in 1967 and that was my baptism to the game, and I’ve never looked back.
“I wanted to be a professional player and that was accomplished when I went America after four years of college.
“When I was at secondary school I had some friends who were connected to track and field in the US so I wrote a resume and sent it over to a couple of friends and they dropped them off at the athletic departments at a few different universities and I ended up in New Jersey and the assistant coach was from Ireland and he saw my credentials and called me. The following year I left London when I was 19 and went to America.
“I played Southern League for Hounslow but I got a full scholarship and made a go of it in the US.
“My goal then was to get into the NASL which was still going then. But then in 1985 it folded and there was no pro league in America except the indoor league so that’s where I ended up.
“I played 22 years indoor and played MLS when it first started but the money and the situation wasn’t a good fit and there were a number of indoor guys who decided not to do and I finished my career playing indoor in Milwaukee for the last 15 years.”
You were Milwaukee Wave captain, won four championships and scored over 700 goals so you had a lot of high points, was there anything that was the pinnacle?
“I think the longevity. When I tell people I played on my 46th birthday it kind of surprises them. But I played more games than anyone else and there were a lot of international players who played in that league at different times and a lot of them are still in America. I’d like to think I’m one of the pioneers to the pro game now, because a lot of people grew up watching the indoor game.
“A lot of traditionalists frowned upon it, but when there’s no outdoor league and you wanted to play you had to make the most of the opportunities you had.”
You were inducted into the Wisconsin hall of fame, that must have been an honor?
“Yes, yes, the only one that’s left is the indoor hall of fame and I’d like to think I’d get into it that. I had my number retired a few times too and that’s an accomplishment. But the biggest achievement was getting respect from your peers and I’ve got a lot players that I played with that I’m close with that respect what I achieved.”
Was coaching always on your mind once you retired?
“It was always there, but when I was playing I was 24/7 and I just focused on doing my job. But if I hadn’t come to America I would probably have gone in the army and been a teacher of some kind. So it kind of was in the back of mind, but it wasn’t until I was close to hanging my boots up that I decided coaching was going to be an easy transition and enjoyable.
“When you play on the team and one of the youngsters says ‘my dad’s only 44’ and I was 45 I was teaching those youngsters anyway and so the transition was pretty easy. I realized if I could get paid for continuing to do something I loved I knew it was a good gig and I’ve been doing that for a dozen years or so.”
After all the honors you picked up playing, how do you find coaching? Is it rewarding or frustrating?
“It’s rewarding seeing the kids accomplish skill we work on in practice and then take it into a game and also to see them mature into young boys, into men and adulthood.
“I had opportunities to go and coach at a higher level, but coaching professionally is unstable and three or four losses and you can lose your job, well I don’t have that coaching youth soccer so the stability has been nice.
“I’ve been fortunate to coach how I want to coach and not had to worry about wins and losses, whilst having that security.”
What would your pointers be to any new coaches?
Believe in your core principles around the game and has a human being and establish good values on and off the pitch to your players.
Don’t set the bar too high because you’re going to get upset if you can’t attain it and manage the level of success.
Be enthusiastic. That’s a big part of and remember you’re dealing with young minds. It’s not all about wins and losses.
Is American youth soccer geared up to winning?
Yes it’s part of the issue. There’s a number of things that contribute, but Americans want to win and they don’t like waiting and want it to happen yesterday and soccer can take time because it’s a sport they didn’t invent.
“They want to be able to have success immediately at the top level and you can’t buy it (although Man City can).”
You must be excited about starting to work with GoPlay?
Yes, it’s a great opportunity and ’m looking forward to working with the GoPlay staff and to help expand their brand to new markets.
What are the benefits for young players who travel?
The next generation of sports athletes will become more passionate about their sport as well as maturing sooner from the experience of international travel. Each time I have returned to the UK, the young athletes I have accompanied have been surprised by the intensity of the professional game there.
It’s more than the most intense college football rivalry in the US, the passion and what it means to the fans in Europe is a real eye opener and one which our athletes can only learn from.
And what do parents and coaches get from these types of international trips?
Parents and coaches will see first hand how their children’s sport is carried out and supported overseas. From the level of professionalism in training to the different skills that are evident in matches.
Parents of course get the opportunity to go and visit famous tourist attractions, that maybe their kids are not too keen on seeing. As a coach, I’m always learning and so the chance to pick up new ideas in Europe is a fantastic opportunity.
Everyone that travels will gain many experiences that they will never forget. It’s hard to put a value on that!