By Paul Sheirich
When Anton Peterlin was 16 years old he called himself “Alex” and played for the San Francisco Seals U17s. That must seem like ages ago to the 22 year old Anton Peterlin who just signed a contract with Everton. Yes, that’s “Everton,” of the better known team, of the English Premier league (EPL).
Anton played for the SF Seals almost exclusively over the next 5 years during the Spring and Summer seasons until last Summer, 2008. That Summer he hooked up with the Ventura Fusion and Coach Graham Smith who introduced him to Everton FC, of the English Premier League.
Sheirich – A lot has to happen in an individuals career to get an opportunity like you’ve received. What are the top three things that you can look back on and say; those were key contributors to your achievements to date?
Peterlin – The top three things that I can look back and say are hard work, practice, practice and more practice, and finally a belief in myself. I would also say that people that I have met over the years have inspired and taught me what it takes to play at a professional level. For instance getting the opportunity to go and play in Osnabruck with the Seals when I was younger was a good eye opener and also re-established my desire to play football in Europe and at another level.
Sheirich – As you went through your trial period at Everton, you must have been nervous at first. How did you find yourself transitioning into the “grove” of the trial? How easily did you settle in? Was it dramatically different to previous experiences here in the States?
Peterlin – I was nervous the first day with Everton, but luckily I got to train with the reserves and got into the grove of things. The reserves are a very good side and it was a good way to get introduced to the speed of play over here in England. Then I got to train with the first team the next day and that was an even greater demand. It has been interesting settling into a new environment but luckily they all speak English, which makes the transition easier. It wasn’t too dramatic since I have lived in Europe a good deal of my life when I was younger in the summer in Denmark and Slovenia. So I was very welcoming to the change.
Sheirich – Looking back on the experience of the trials, what would you liked to have changed, and why, and what advise would you offer to anyone else who was to receive the same opportunity?
Peterlin – I wouldn’t have changed much actually, it was a really good week, watching Everton play in the FA cup 5th round and see them beat Stoke as well. There is a really good atmosphere around Everton and the organization. All I can say is that if you get opportunities, make the most of them. Sometimes they don’t go they way you thought they would, but don’t give up, go to another trial and keep believing. I went to the Quakes and Fire preseason camps and didn’t get an offer. I learned that failure is a part of learning. Always work hard. Luck is definitely needed, but you can create some for yourself.
Sheirich – Has Everton set expectations for you? Will you be playing reserves, or working with the first team?
Peterlin – There are no set expectations at this time. I have been here now for a month playing with both the reserves and first team. I have practiced a great deal with the first team and look to train more with them as the season progresses.
Sheirich – What are the top challenges you feel you will face living in England, and begin to settle in with the team?
Peterlin – I hope to break into the reserve game lineups. From there I hope to join the first team trainings and, then, make the sidelines in first team games. The top challenges are getting used to the physicality of football over here. It is more physical than in the US.
Sheirich – Did your experience with the Seals contribute to your growth as a player in any particular way?
Peterlin – The Seals experience did contribute to my growth as a player. Playing with players like Shani and Kimtai and other top quality players taught me not to hide from the game and play with something to prove. I also have to say that the trainings were very good and Tom Simpson always had good teams with great players. I used to watch the Seals when I was younger so being able to play for them when I was older was a great experience. It’s an experience that can never be taught.
Sheirich – How did your experience as a college player prepare you for a professional career? Would you recommend a US College experience as a preparation to a professional career?
Peterlin – The college experience did help because we trained every day more than once, which is what kids do over here. So yes I would recommend the college experience but would recommend living in Europe. College taught me how to be more physical, think faster, learn to travel and experience the pressure of 11,000 fans.
Sheirich – Anything in particular you want to express about yourself, your expectations, or about others that you’d like to share with us and our readers?
Peterlin – I expect to play hard and get stuck in. I want to make a good mark on Everton and play with the first team, but for now to make a strong stand in the reserves. Football over here is completely different from the states, in the sense that the entire country is immersed in football, and it’s a vital part of the community. Everyone that loves football, should come to England and watch a EPL match and see for themselves, especially Everton’s games.