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Dante Polvara: Training at Chelsea with Reece James, idolising Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard and bond with Christian Ramirez at Aberdeen

Dante Polvara
Dante Polvara

He is still familiarising himself with Scottish football at Aberdeen, but American Dante Polvara has already had an insight into the culture of football in Britain.

The 21-year-old arrived at the Dons from Georgetown University with a burgeoning reputation as one to watch after being named the 2021 MAC Hermann Trophy winner for college player of the year in the United States.

Choosing to leave the US behind for a new challenge in Scotland was a big decision, but the 6ft 4in American had an idea of what to expect when opting to move to the Premiership.

He said: “When I was young, between 10 and 12, I would come over and train with Chelsea’s academy, because we had a few links between my hometown club and their academy.

“Some coaches were doing work over here and vice versa so that relationship made it easier for us.

“When you go to Chelsea, you realise what it is like and all you want to do is come over here.

“We would attend tournaments back in the States, massive tournaments. Like the Dallas clubs and big European clubs would send teams over.

“We would get to play against them and a lot of times my team would match up very well.

“As a young boy, all you do is watch European football at the end of the day.

“You watch the Premier League, the Champions League and for me that’s always the goal, to make it as far as you can and reach your potential whatever that may be.

“I’ve always believed that if you are to reach that potential it is likely to be over in Europe, in the UK somewhere.

“It was definitely something I wanted to happen and, when I knew there was an opportunity, I jumped at it.”

Polvara was among impressive company at Chelsea

Polvara’s education in the game came among some esteemed company with several of his former training-mates at Chelsea having progressed to first team level in England.

He said: “Reece James, Connor Gallagher and Marc Guehi were there and there are a few others I have played with.

“Calum Hudson-Odoi might also have been there at the time.

“There was a talent group in the 2000 team back in 1999, because a lot of players have broken through from that age group.”

For Polvara, seeing the progress the young Chelsea players have made, have only whetted his own appetite.

He said: “You fancy a bit of that.  You just want to get involved and you don’t want to miss out.

“You know when you are younger and you see these guys make it then it can be very inspiring.

“It is something you want to get involved in.”

Liverpool legend is Polvara’s inspiration

Former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard

Having grown up on a steady diet of English football’s Premier League, it should come as no surprise to learn Polvara draws inspiration from some internationally-renowned players for his own career.

He said: “My father has always been a big Liverpool fan.  I never wanted to support the same team as him being a youngster.

“When I went to Chelsea I had the excuse to be a Chelsea supporter.

“Regardless, Steven Gerrard has also been a role model.  Watching him as a leader and a player, and he is someone I still strive to carry those same characteristics and in his time as a player.

“Also, Frank Lampard at Chelsea was huge. I could only imagine what it was like to be in their position one day.”

Ramirez advice has been key to helping Polvara settle in Scotland

Christian Ramirez has scored 15 times this season for Aberdeen.

England may have been part of Polvara’s focus at youth level, but when the chance to move to Scotland came his way, it was Aberdeen’s other American, striker Christian Ramirez, who Polvara turned to for advice.

He believes the guidance of the US men’s international has been crucial both in preparing him for his move to Pittodrie and in helping him adjust to his new surroundings.

Polvara said: “I was lucky enough that I was exposed to similar environments that Christian played in.

“I knew what I was used to, both at the collegiate level and MLS. We could relate to a lot of things and it was easy for me to compare our game to the MLS and him to explain it.

“That clear communication made it a lot easier and to be a lot more excited about it, because he only had good things to say.

“He has been a massive help since I’ve been here. Even the little things like asking him to explain what someone is saying – from time to time we agree we can’t understand what’s going on!

“He’s been a massive help for me and something I found really important, maybe more important than you might even understand.

“When you move across the ocean, to have some bit of home around just makes all aspects on and off the field easier.”

 

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