HAMDEN, Conn. - Quinnipiac men's soccer head coach Eric Da Costa recently caught up with former men's soccer star Shane Recklet. The two spoke of Recklet's tough, yet amazing journey from an unsigned player to an everyday starter for the German Pro club SV Germania 90 Schoneiche. Recklet, who just last week notched his first professional goal, provides insight into how coach Da Costa, fellow teammates and his own determination helped him accomplish his dream of becoming a professional soccer player.
Shane Congratulations on the signing of your first professional contract. How did it feel to put pen to paper and make it official?
The day of the signing was such an exciting day for me. For one, it was a big relief to be finally signing for a team. In the past year I had been doing quite a lot of traveling and trying out for different clubs, and although I was able to impress some people in the process, I still was just another unsigned player in the end. I had done three or four tryouts in the USA; I went to Sweden, Belgium, and Norway and I always came home empty handed. It was a frustrating year because up until this point, any team I had ever tried out for in my career I made, so I wasn't used to having multiple teams saying ''no'' to me. After a while it was starting to get to me, and sometimes I would even question if I was doing the right thing by trying to make it to the professional level. After all, I was paying for all the flights, hotels, and expenses from my pocket so I knew I wasn't going to be able to afford many more trips without getting rewarded with a contract. Signing the contract was also a reality check for me. I had completed the first step; the club was able to watch me play and I had played well enough to catch their attention and offer me a contract. But now I knew I had the task of keeping my playing level high enough so that they continue to like my style of play and so that I can earn a spot in the squad. After all, my goals as a player are to grow and improve each day so I knew just making the team wasn't good enough, I wanted to be on the field come game day.
The game has taken you to Berlin, Germany. Could you have imagined this as your destination and has the adjustment to a new culture and language been difficult for you?
Germany was never really a place I thought I would end up. I knew
that I wanted to play in Europe, but when you're trying to make it
in another country, it's all about who you know and what contacts
you have. It wasn't until this past fall that I had met my agent
and played a half season on his team in Connecticut before he sent
me here. So when the season was over and he offered me the trip, I
was so excited. The adjustment to a new culture hasn't been
difficult for me at all. Berlin is such a nice city to be living
in, and most of the people speak English very well. What has been
really helpful is that the team set me up with taking a German
course. It's nice because now I am starting to get an idea of what
my coach is saying every time he talks to the team.
Germany is well known the world over for its rich soccer culture. What has the environment and atmosphere been like?
There is no
doubt that people live for their soccer over here. No matter what
league you are in, you can be in the first or the ninth, people are
always watching and paying attention. Right away I was able to feel
the pressure and importance of each game. During the game, the fans
are very hostile towards the away team, and always banging on their
drums and singing their songs. For me, it's a great atmosphere to
be competing in.
You have become a permanent fixture in the starting lineup very early on, starting in 6 of your 7 matches. How did your career at Quinnipiac prepare you for this level of play?
It was a
combination of a lot of things at Quinnipiac that has helped
prepare me to compete at this level. For one, it was no doubt the
coaching staff. With Eric Da Costa as the head coach and Chris
Bart- Williams, Alejando Rincon, and Shaka Hislop I don't think you
could ask for a better staff coaching at a University. They each
have experience at the professional level and are able to bring
that experience to the training grounds everyday to help strengthen
the team. It was also the amount of quality players we had that has
definitely helped me progress as a player. Trying to score on
Freddy Hall everyday or trying to defend a Graciano Brito running
at you on a daily basis is going to improve your game,
You scored your first goal for the club last week, the first professional goal of your career! Walk us through the play as it developed and key us in to exactly how that moment felt?
It was very
important that we get a result this game. The team we were playing
was one spot ahead of us on the table, and a win for us would mean
we pass them and go ahead two points. It was the first corner kick
of the game, and the first real scoring chance for either team. As
soon as the ball took flight, I knew that I would have a chance at
getting to the ball first. At about the penalty spot I was able to
get free from my man and jumped up to try and win the header. At
the peak of my jump I knew it was only me and I knew I needed to
just put it on target. On my way down as I was watching the ball
head towards the net I saw a defender stretch out his leg to stop
it with his thigh. As soon as I landed on the ground, the ball was
dropping right between me and the defender and it was just a matter
of who would get there first. Without even thinking or hesitating,
my first step with my left foot was forward and my right foot came
swinging around. The defender was too slow to the ball and I slid
it passed him and the goalie on the ground into the net. I was very
happy that I was able to get my first goal, but I was happier that
it was the first goal of the game because in this league scoring
first is very important, and I knew we needed it. We went on to win
the game 3-0.
You were used primarily as a Central Defender by Coach Da Costa at Quinnipiac, but you also spent a season as the team's Central Midfielder. In High School you were a prominent and dangerous forward. Have all of those experiences helped make the transition into the professional ranks any easier?
For sure. I
think my experience in all of those positions without a doubt has
helped me make it to the professional ranks. Right away my coach
was able to tell that I was capable of playing more than one
position. During our preseason in Turkey he switched me back and
forth from central mid-fielder to central defender, and I never
told him I played as a defender in college. Having played as a
forward, midfielder and defender throughout my career has allowed
me to become a strong central defensive -midfielder on this team. I
can relate back to those days where I was relied on as an attacking
threat and dangerous offensively back in high school, but also
stick to my defensive tasks from back at QU.
Two of your former teammates at Quinnipiac are also now playing professionally as well. Graciano Brito completed a year in Portugal before recently returning to the U.S. signing with F.C. New York. Freddy Hall is in England and has been on trial with many top clubs. Now you in Germany! Was there something in the water over there at QU?
Haha...maybe. When you have guys like Freddy and Graci on your
team, and you have Eric, Chris or Alex teaching you about the game
every day, it's difficult not to want to keep playing and
improving. To be honest, I think we have two or three more guys
that, if they really wanted, they could have been successful at the
next level as well. That was our team, we weren't just a couple of
superstars and that's it, our whole line-up consisted of very
strong players, and we had guys coming in off the bench that were
able to maintain the high level of play. I consider myself to be
very lucky to be part of such a program, and do not think I would
be as prepared if I chose to attend a different University.
The program at Quinnipiac has many very promising young players that are hoping to follow in your footsteps. What would be some advice you would give them?
My advice would be if you want it, go and get it. You can't afford to wait around because nobody is going to do it for you. There are millions of kids who are in the same shoes as you and it's all about who wants it more. If you aren't willing to be 100 percent committed and put in the time and effort, then my suggestion is to have a plan-B.