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Aberdeen can prosper in the American market, says club legend Bobby Clark

Dante Polvara made his debut for Aberdeen against Rangers at Ibrox.
Dante Polvara made his debut for Aberdeen against Rangers at Ibrox.

Former Aberdeen goalkeeper Bobby Clark believes tapping into the American market could pay dividends for the Dons.

Dante Polvara made the move to Pittodrie from Georgetown University in January having been named the best college player in the United States.

The 21-year-old made his Dons debut as a substitute in the recent 1-0 defeat by Rangers at Ibrox.

He is joined in the Aberdeen squad by fellow American Christian Ramirez who has enjoyed an excellent first season at Pittodrie with 15 goals in 39 appearances.

Clark, who was head coach at the University of Notre Dame for 17 seasons until 2017, played an active role in helping bring Polvara to Pittodrie and he is hopeful it will prove to be a move that works out for all parties.

Dante Polvara was named the best men’s college player in the United States in 2021.

Dons Hall of Fame member Clark said: “Dante played for a very good college team in Georgetown and the coaching staff there are very good.

“Brian Wiese (the head coach at Georgetown) both played and coached for me at Stanford and Notre Dame. He is a very good coach.

“Brian asked me if Aberdeen would be interested in Dante. I knew Dante was a good player as I had watched him on several occasions.

“I was surprised that he was trying to come over but delighted that he was showing an interest.

“I let Stephen Glass and Dave Cormack know and it took off from there.

“He is a very nice lad and a good player.

“There are a few good players who have come over from the United States.

“You never know how it is going to go for each individual player but the American players can play.

“You can see that with the number who are playing in the Bundesliga and other top leagues.

“It is easier for them to get work permits to play in Germany but I read recently that there are more than 300 Americans playing abroad.

“Rangers have James Sands in their squad. He played in the same under-14 team as Dante. Sands’ twin brother Will, another good player, played with Dante last year at Georgetown University.

“Fingers crossed it works out for Dante.”

Dante Polvara opted to join the Dons despite interest from sides in America, Continental Europe and elsewhere in Scotland. 

Polvara’s inclusion in the matchday squad to face Rangers at Ibrox earlier this month came as a surprise with the 21-year-old having undergone hernia surgery following his move to Pittodrie.

Clark said: “I was surprised when he was in the team to face Rangers as he couldn’t have been back training for long after the surgery.

“I thought he did quite well with the few touches he had after coming on.

“We weren’t getting a lot of touches at that time.

“What a game to make your professional debut.

“He must have done well in training that week otherwise Jim Goodwin wouldn’t have brought him into the squad or put him on the field.”

Clark says the significance of being named the best college player in the United States should not be underplayed.

He said: “There are 208 Division 1 teams in college soccer and he was chosen as the best player.

“A lot has to fall into place to win that award, such as being in a good team that goes far.

“His team won their league and then lost in the semi-finals of the national tournament to my son Jamie’s side. He is the coach at the University of Washington.

“I saw his quarter-final and semi-final game and I thought he was outstanding.

“Ian Harkes, who is at Dundee United, won that award (in 2017) when he was at Wake Forest University.

“Dante hasn’t played at this level before as the college level would be more like an under-21 or under-22 league.

“He has been mainly playing against younger players but he is a very good player so hopefully the move works out for him and for Aberdeen.”

 

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