BRIAN SCIARETTA - Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Currently enjoying a very strong season for the youth team of FC Groningen, Desevio Payne is a rising prospect in Holland and hopes to begin representing the United States soon.
Payne, 17, is currently playing for FC Groningen's top youth team, the A-Juniors. As the team's starting right back, he has played a big role in the team's solid season, in which it sits currently in third place through 22 games in the Eredivisie A-Junioren standings. With the season winding down, Groningen trails league leaders Feyenoord by only four points.
The 2012/13 season is Payne's first with Groningen, and with his personal success as well as the team's improved standings, he is hoping to move up to the club's second team next year with an eye on eventually playing in the Eredivisie.
"It's going well," Payne told Yanks Abroad. "We still have a chance to get a championship. I'm more of a leader this year. Last year I wasn't talking as much on the field, and this year it's better. While still being a junior player, my goal next year is to play for the second team and eventually work my way up to play for the first team. I will try my best and just play my game and see where that takes me."
Holland is often considered one of the best countries at developing young players, and Payne has noticed improvement in his game since joining Groningen, whose first team currently sits in eighth place in the Eredivisie and is likely to compete next month for a spot in Europa League qualifying.
Groningen, like many Eredivisie clubs, invests highly in its youth development and Payne believes that the coaching there has quickly improved areas of his game such as effectively moving forward into the attack as well as being able to play central defense if needed.
"With the coaching and the level of competition, I'm learning a lot here," Payne said. "It's been very good for me. The level is high in Holland and they work a lot with you one on one. If there is something specific you need to learn, the coach will work with you on those things."
Payne's rapid emergence in the youth system of Groningen has not gone unnoticed either. Last month he was named to the standby list for Holland's U-18 national team for a pair of friendlies. While he did not play in those friendlies, it was the first time Payne has ever received a callup by a national team.
International soccer is a topic Payne has thought a lot about in recent years, and he is not limiting himself to playing for Holland, either, since his background gives him multiple options.
Payne was born in Greenwood, South Carolina. His father, Ashton Payne, was born in Trinidad and Tobago but immigrated to the United States where he eventually became an American citizen.
In his college years, Ashton earned a soccer scholarship at Lander University in South Carolina and that is where he met his future Dutch wife who was also at Lander on a softball scholarship. Eventually the two married in the area, and Desevio was born soon after.
When Desevio was only a year old, Ashton had a plan to move the family to Holland for five years so that Desevio would have an opportunity to experience his mother's side of the family and their Dutch culture. The initial plan for five years, however, eventually faded and the move became permanent as the family grew happily in Holland.
Despite settling in Holland, Ashton was adamant in raising his family in a household immersed in American culture.
"My wife and I tried to instill both cultures to our kids, especially Desevio, so that they don't lose that USA connection," Aston Payne said. "We follow all the traditions and we speak English among ourselves."
Desevio is the family's oldest child, with Deron, 10, and Devyn, 7, also interested in playing soccer. Deron has recently been recruited to play for AZ Alkmaar next year.
Desevio is the only member of his family born in the United States and he has never returned since he left South Carolina at a young age. He does, however, feel strongly connected to the American culture growing up in family that embraced its roots.
"I feel American and my father gave that mentality to me growing up," Payne explained. "We spoke English growing up. It's not that we don't have anything to do with America. We very much try to stay in touch with that side, as we regularly communicate with my aunts and cousins who live in New York."
So with Holland's U-18 national team expressing interest last month, it is also very possible that Payne could also see similar interest from the United States. At only 17, Payne is eligible to play for the United States U-18 national team as well as the US U-20 national team for the cycle leading to the 2015 U-20 World Cup.
Payne admits that it is a decision he has considered already in great detail, and that he would very much be interested in further embracing the American culture that surrounded him growing up.
"I've thought a lot about it, and it would be an honor if I would be called by the United States," Payne said of playing for the United States. "It would be a big deal for me."
Ashton Payne insists that he is letting his son decide but admits it would be a great achievement for his son to represent the United States internationally.
"It's all about him," Aston Payne concluded. "It's not really about me. If he's able to reach that level, I'm all for it. I'll support him 100% whether it's Holland or the United States. It would be a great achievement and I'd be at every game. He has a strong USA connection and that is pretty much his preference. I just told him to think about it and if the opportunity arises, then he'll have to make a decision."