Friday, September 17, 2010
Speedy winger Jeremiah White says he is pleased to be back playing in Europe and is looking forward to helping his new club GKS Belchatow make a run at the Polish Ekstraklasa title.
White signed with the club last month right before the two week international break after having spent the first half of 2010 playing in Saudi Arabia with Al-Ettifaq.
The native of Washington D.C. is glad to be at Belchatow and back in Europe where he says he was eager to return all along.
"I was in Saudi Arabia for a six month period and it was a fantastic contract, but I started to get the itch to go back to Europe so I talked to my wife about it and she supported the idea," White recently told YA. "The first few weeks here have been good. I've now got my family here and my papers have come through so I can play this weekend. The club has been very helpful and accommodating with everything so I'm just really happy to be here. It's a good situation."
Poland marks the fifth different country on the continent where White has played and unlike some of his most recent stops like Saudi Arabia and Denmark, the former Wake Forest standout notes that the Ekstraklasa brings a its own style that he feels will make him a better player.
"It's a different kind of soccer here than in Denmark or Saudi Arabia," he contrasted. "It is quite physical but I think it will help me become more of a complete player. I welcome physical play."
Following White's signing with the club, Belchatow head coach Maciej Bartoszek commented that one of the main reasons the American was brought onto the squad was White's renowned speed.
The former AGF Aarhus man agrees with his new boss and adds that one of his aims will be to leverage his speed and quickness against the more slower defenses in the league.
"I think the coach is excited to take advantage of my speed and velocity and use that to get behind defenses," explained White. "There really wasn't anyone with a lot of pace on our squad before I signed so I think I can be expected to use my speed a lot."
In addition to Poland, White has had previous stints with clubs in Serbia, France, Greece and most recently in Denmark. However the well-traveled striker opines that perhaps some of the most technically sound teams he has faced came while playing for Al-Ettifaq.
The 28 year old was struck by how skillful the Saudi players were and even feels that their quality of soccer sometimes surpasses those of teams he has faced in Europe.
"I was really surprised how technical the Saudi players are," he stated. "Also there are Brazilians because the clubs have money and can buy good players, but among the strong teams there, I'd have to say they played better soccer than any team in Denmark. They may not have the pace or be as physical, but technically they are very strong with the ball."
As for being just the second American ever to play in the Saudi Premier League, White admits that it came with its challenges but overall it was a positive experience.
"It was very different playing there," he said of the Kingdom. "You train in the evening since it's so hot and dry and it is a big shift being a Christian living in the Muslim world, but I made some friends there and it is an experience I value."
As for the future, White is looking to spend some successful years in Poland and at the very least help Belchatow to claim a berth in Europe next season, if not win the league title.
However in the long term, White's ambition is to return to the United States so he can cap off his professional career and ensure an ideal educational environment for his one-year-old and three-year-old sons near their Philadelphia-area home.
"For me, this move [to Belchatow] is about my career and trying to push it forward as much as I can in the next couple of years," he concluded. "But I would love to play in MLS at some point. The Philadelphia Union would be perfect!
"My kids are used to traveling now so while they're young it's fine being abroad but once they start going to school, I think my wife and I would like to go back home."
White is slotted to make his debut with Belchatow on Saturday versus Gˇrnik Zabrze.