DAVID SMITH - Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Midway through his third season at London-based club West Ham, Sebastian Lletget feels his choice to move abroad has already paid dividends as he draws nearer to a first-team debut.
After officially joining the club's youth academy in 2008, Lletget has gradually worked his way towards the first team, and feels that he is at the stage where the call could be just around the corner.
"Some [...] players always get injured and I've played [with the first team] in a couple friendlies already, so I might be involved - hopefully. That's always the goal but we'll see how it goes."
His time in London has been marked by both a long personal bout with illness as well as a tumultuous period at the club which has seen several changes of the first-team coach and last season's ultimate relegation from the Premier League.
Through it all, he has noticed a continual development of his own game in the environment provided at what is considered one of England's best academies, and believes he has been able to incorporate this education into his own style developed prior to his move.
"It took a lot of time for me to adapt to the English game," he freely admits. "I'm not exactly a classical English-style player, but it does influence my game. I do take parts of it and put it into my game and that helps me adapt to the style."
"I think playing in England has made me such a more clever and more experienced player than I would have been had I went somewhere else," the California native asserts.
"If I went to MLS or to another league too that would have been great, but West Ham was the best choice at the time, and I don't regret it."
Honing his skills in what is commonly regarded as "The Academy of Football" in England due to its steady stream of international-caliber players over the decades has also given the added benefit of regular contact with and instruction from its plethora of its successful alumni, many of whom are household names in the world of soccer.
"There's so many good players [that come out of the academy] and they have such a good relationship with the club," he continues. "Guys like [Frank] Lampard and [Rio] Ferdinand - they always come back to do clinics and other things."
In addition to his club progress, the 19 year-old attacking midfielder has his eye towards eventually making his mark with the US national team. He was a participant in the recent camp for the future Olympic team, and is optimistic that the changes at the senior level by the new coaching staff will re-energize the program.
"From what I hear, Jürgen Klinsmann is a really about getting down to business and getting things done," he contends. "I think that's exactly what we need at the moment. Bob Bradley had a really good run, all fair play to him, but I think this is a breath of fresh air for us and a brand new start."
The increasingly culturally diverse nature of the US team, both on the senior level and on the various youth teams has become a talking point, and Lletget, who is himself a holder of multiple passports, is confident that Klinsmann is the perfect coach to maximize the huge potential held in the group.
"He's taking a look at other players in Europe that didn't have the chance before because the US wasn't aware of them," he suggests, concluding "If Klinsmann hadn't been appointed to the job, then we probably wouldn't ever have discovered these players. It just makes us better."