Tom Smart, Deseret News
As a kid, Robbie Findley promised himself he would play soccer in England if given the chance.
Findley's inspiring humility never allowed him to speculate on the prospects of fulfilling that dream. Throughout the years, his coaches and peers would consistently compliment his talent. Findley took it all in, but needed to continually prove to himself that he was good enough to go to the next level, taking it one day at a time.
Then, the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity showed its face. It came after he began building his professional career with Real Salt Lake, leading the Claret-and-Colbalt to MLS glory in 2009, and was called up to compete with the U.S. Men's National Team at the 2010 World Cup.
When he was heavily recruited by Nottingham Forest of the Championship League, he knew it was time to pack his bags and leave. After nearly four years with Real Salt Lake, Findley walked away to pursue another dream and see through the opportunity that awaited him.
Like most good things that come in life, he would never have seen his successes without sacrifice. Although Findley could not wait to start his new life in England, leaving RSL was anything but easy.
“It was difficult because the group we have here (RSL), it is like family,” Findley said. “Anytime you gotta go away from family, it's always tough.”
Findley and his siblings grew up in Arizona, however his Trinidadian heritage greatly influenced him as a young boy. His roots led him to the beautiful game of soccer, a way of life in the Caribbean country.
From the age of three, Findley was learning to kick a soccer ball. Throughout his childhood, soccer was like the steady beat of a drum. Constantly surrounded by the game, he played on club teams and in Sunday leagues.
Findley said he had a brief affair with basketball, but the essence of the game of soccer hooked him early on and his devotion to the sport grew as the years passed.
“Love for the game, passion (hooked me),” Findley said. “I always had fun while I was out there playing, running around scoring goals.”
Findley humbly credits the supportive upbringing by his family and closest friends with his success. Although every player and coach on his various teams over the years influenced him, he remembers his parents and his faith having the biggest impact along his path to playing professional soccer.
"Everybody's played a role,” Findley reminisced. “But my family has been there all the time. I'd probably say they were the most important.”
Findley gave every game his best, but the day he was invited to the MLS combine was the first time he allowed himself to consider his future as a professional athlete.
“That's when it really set in and let me know that it's about to happen,” he said, as he allowed his mind to travel back to that day.
Drafted by the L.A. Galaxy in 2007, Findley was only in California for about a third of the season before the Galaxy traded him to Real Salt Lake. When he heard the news of the trade, Findley was excited, knowing head coach Jason Kreis' history as a player. He knew Kreis could help him develop and score more goals in the process.
“Jason, he knows how to get things out of the players here,” Findley said. “He knows what fires us up. He knows how we feel.”
In just 16 games for RSL, Findley led the team in scoring with six goals. He became the first rookie in Real Salt Lake history to earn the team's Golden Boot award.
After completing a stellar rookie season, Findley saw his game progress. He continued as a top goal scorer for the team over the next few years.
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