A former Sheffield Wednesday Academy player is making a name for himself in college football in California.
Will Kendall, who also played for Retford United and Matlock Town before leaving for the United States, has tranformed from a centre back to a utility player for St Mary’s College.
He can also play left back, left midfield or forward.
In his four years in California, Kendall has become a senior leader in the college soccer programme.
Each of his three goals last season were match winners as he helped the St May’s team the Gaels win a teamrecord 12 matches.
But Kendall’s success story has been tinged with sadness over the last year.
For his father, Kevan, the biggest suppoprter in his football career, died last September from cancer.
“My father battled cancer for two years,” said Kendall. “When my family came over to America to visit, he thought the cancer was gone. When he got back home, we found out it wasn’t.
“It was hard to deal with because I’m a bit by myself out here.”
Kendall returned home for the funeral and later that season, he scored the game-winner against Gonzaga and pointed to the sky to celebrate with his father’s memory clearly on his mind.
“I was so close to crying at that moment,” said Kendall. “My Dad was crazy about my football, maybe even more than I was.
“Every time I step on the pitch, it is for my Dad. That is the place where I know we can continue our connection. I can hear his voice in my head, when I make a bad pass or when I do something good. He is definitely looking over me when I play football.”
Kendall arrived in Moraga in the spring of 2012 following a 5,000-mile trek from his native England.
Like most young players, his aim was to develop into a professional player. As he entered college age, he was introduced to Adam Cooper and Saint Mary’s and made the decision to come to America, develop his game and receive a quality education.
Now he is only seven months from graduating with a degree in business administration.
He said: “I definitely don’t regret coming to America and I’m very happy about my decision to attend St Mary’s.
“I’m going to earn my business degree, but I still plan to see how far I can go with professional football. After that, perhaps a career in sports marketing here in America.”