Diaz's UK Tour with Austin Aztex
Posted on: Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Tour Experience -
Leading up to the trip after the Highlanders vs Austin game, I was very anxious to see the result of which players were going on the tour, or if any were going! I thought I had a strong game and I made sure that I worked as hard as I possibly could have. I got a call early Monday morning and to my delight I found out I was going on the tour, it was an amazing feeling and I will never forget it.
Once I got to Texas and started training I felt a lot more comfortable with the team and things were going well.
The travelling was quite difficult with time changes but getting there was such a relief knowing there was still a lot good things to come.
The tour was a definite success, not only winning our 3 games but we got to see some amazing places and we were given an opportunity that doesn't come around to many footballers. Training in the professional facilities of Stoke city and being honored by the crowd down on the pitch at Britannia before their game were experiences that gave me that little more hunger to succeed on the trip and beyond it. I know i'll be taking those memories with me where ever I go.
Exhibition games -
Unfortunately I didnt have much involvment in the first game against Stoke reserves. The game was quite high paced and physical which was expected, all young footballers with something to prove and it was actually quite a good game to watch end to end stuff with a lot of tackling and nitty gritty football. In the end it was a well executed header that put us over the young stoke side.
Vs Accrington stanley
Hearing my name in the starting line up in this game was not only a relief but at a time where I can prove my worth at the next level and this game started quite the same as the last with a lot of physical battles and some loose passing at times. As the game went on I found my feet and began to play with more confidence. Unfortunately I didn't get to go forward as much as I usually like to as a right back but defensively I felt I did a good job. I played strong and kept it simple. We won the game 3-1.
Vs Sheff Wed
This was our last game of the tour and a time for us to prove our good results thus far. Sheff Wed were a very good side and kept the ball for long periods of the game showing value of the ball and while our boys were working hard it was difficult for us to retain possession and keep it. We knew we were in a match and some things needed to be changed. Adrian stressed the importance of pressuring the ball as a unit and keeping it when we had it and in the second half things looked better we were pressing as a group and creating some good chances.
Playing as a right midfielder this game, the opportunities to get forward were alot more obvious and creating the winning goal for us was a great feeling and a good way to end which I felt was my strongest game.
Stoke Vs West ham
This game was the pick of the trip. Although they aren't high flying sides on the top of the EPL this game was a very interesting one to watch. Both sides played the game very differently with West Ham playing a short passing game-plenty of movement on and off the ball very nice to watch at times, Stoke on the other hand I thought played the game smart they are a much bigger side and played a very direct and physical game playing to their strengths up front which in the end made the difference with Stoke coming out on top 2-1. The crowd in this game was amazing and true football supporters were in the thousands at Britannia Stadium and they were all trying to urge their team along for that second goal that finally came due to some classy play by Ricardo Fuller and James Beattie up front. Seeing the passion among these supporters was unbelievable and the taunting going on between fans was absolutely crazy. Planned chants and songs sung so loud was a large part of me enjoying this game, not only seeing passion on the field but around it was a special thing to be apart of. Equally special was after the game I was lucky enough to meet some of the players one-on-one including James Beattie, Salif Diou and Ricardo Fuller who gave me his playing shirt. This really topped off a great trip to Brittania.
Wigan ath Vs Manchester City-
This game was very different from the Stoke West ham game. Wigans home advantaged didn't seem much when the game started with the man city fans really making some noise and taunting the Wigan fans for the lack of fan support.
But once the game got going it was clear that for a top flight team to play at a place like Wigan it was going to be a difficult task to walk away with a result. Wigan played as a unit, defended very well in numbers, and when they had the ball they used the width of the pitch and attacked in numbers. The whole team worked for 90 mins plus, and they had to as Man city have a barrage of world class players and watching the calmness of these guys while still playing a fast and sharp game was incredible. This game proved that class will not always get you across the line and at times it showed with Wigan looking the more dangerous, especially once a Man City defender got sent off for a second yellow. In the end a draw was a fair result with Man City defending a strong push at the end from Wigan away from home.
We were lucky enough to use Stoke city's Training facility throughout our trip. The fields were pure class and made training a lot easier and true. Playing back on grass for me was great because its what I was always used to and since coming to Canada I haven't had many opportunities to do so.Training is a large part of how you play in actual games and enjoying training came along with the hard work when we were at Stokes comfy facilities.
On a personal level, the culture was not so much of a shock for me having been to the UK before and Australia not being too different. I think the main difference was the food and perhaps the religion of football over there, everyone you talk to knows football and its a big part of life in the UK. Reading their news paper is more like reading a soccer magazine in Canada.
The majority of the guys from Texas found the weather very different. It was quite cold on our trip, but for me, being in Canada for such a long time now I was well accustomed to the climate.
Off the pitch social time-
Because of the travelling and amount of training and games we had in such a short time, everyone was pretty tired so we didn't venture too far from our hotel. However, we did have two nights free over the weekend and the team put them to good use. While this was a tour for football, it's always important to keep a healthy social life given the right circumstances and timing.
So, we organized for the players to get a bus from Stoke over to Manchester for the night and the games began as soon as we left on the bus. It was initiation time for the new boys so it was decided that each new player to the team had to sing a song on the bus in front of everyone. While I never get nervous before football games, I was sure feeling the pressure on this one and I had a solid performance to follow as Nick Patterson set a high standard on the first song which everyone ended up joining in except me. I was sweating bullets because I knew I was next. I got up and started singing 'I'm a Believer.' Thank god it was a crowd favorite and the boys joined in which helped the cause. Shortly after, it was announced that it was not over and the new boys needed to come up with a group performance. While it was alot easier having other guys singing with me, we sure made the Backstreet Boys look good.
The night in Manchester was a great one and everyone agreed it was worth the trip.
I don't want to say too much on a move to Texas because I really don't know what will come of it but I do know that this trip made me a better player with a new belief of playing at the next level. Whatever happens, i'm thankful to both clubs for giving me an opportunity of a life time and ill be taking this with me forever.
Written By Tynan Diaz
November 6th, 2009