Tuesday, 25 November 2014
There are a number of advantages to be gained from electing to study part of your degree course abroad, but not many students find themselves at the centre of a sporting fairytale within weeks of arriving on foreign shores.
Sport Business Management student Daniel Keir experienced just that as part of the Worcester City squad which beat Coventry City in the FA Cup, the world’s oldest football competition, earlier this month – one of the greatest days in the club’s history.
Born and raised in Canada to an English mother and a Canadian father, Daniel, a student at Ontario’s Brock University, chose to study the third year of his four-year course at Worcester, and arrived in the UK in early September.
Within weeks, the goalkeeper had been signed up by Worcester City – who play in the Conference North, the sixth rung of the English league ladder – after a successful trial.
Daniel was an unused substitute for Worcester’s FA Cup first round tie against League One giants and previous cup winners Coventry City at the 32,000-seater Ricoh Arena in early November, watching from the bench as the visitors produced the shock of the round, defeating their illustrious opponents 2-1 in front of a crowd of over 8,000.
“It was an unreal experience,” says Daniel. “It’s kind of difficult to put into words; in Canada, the biggest crowd I’d ever played in front of was probably around 100 people, so to experience a stadium the size of the Ricoh Arena and hear the atmosphere generated by the crowd was incredible.
“In Canada we obviously don’t have anything like that in football terms, so it was just unreal.”
Daniel took advantage of links between the two universities to come over and study in England, and to pursue the sport he has loved since childhood.
“My parents are both keen on football, so they got me into it from a young age,” he explains. “I would play ice hockey in the winter and football in the summer, and I played for local teams when was I was growing up.
“I started playing in goal at the age of about 15, then went on to represent the university team and managed to play at a fairly high level in Canada.
“I came to England with the intention of playing for a local team over here, but what has happened – at the speed at which it’s happened – is unbelievable.”
Worcester have been drawn against another League One club, Scunthorpe United, in the next round of the cup. Should they win that tie, they will book themselves a place in the draw for the third round – the stage at which Premier League and Championship teams enter the competition - one of the most famous dates in the English football calendar.
Despite being well aware of the size of the task facing City at Scunthorpe, Daniel, who wants to return to England after completing his degree in Canada, has a very clear idea of which side he’d like Worcester to draw should they progress – Norwich City.
He explains: “My mom is from Norwich, so they have always been the English team that I’ve followed. We’re taking it one game at a time, but if we do get to the third round, I’d love to draw Norwich.”