Burden Featured In BBC Norfolk: Burden Keeps American Dream Alive

NORFOLK, ENGLAND -- Adam Burden, a footballer from Diss, was living the American dream before making the decision to hang up his boots after numerous injury setbacks.

Adam was told by doctors he had to make the decision to stop playing or face serious consequences to his health as he got older.

"It was the hardest decision I've ever had to make in my life," said Adam.

But all is not lost for the he 20-year-old who is now turning his attention to coaching the side he once played for.

Adam had initially been selected to play for the North Carolina team Lees-McRae after being spotted by one of their scouts, who less than a week later, offered him the chance to play football across the Atlantic.

However, the initial excitement of moving to America soon turned to disappointment as Adam picked up a serious injury just a few months after making the big move.

"I had torn my anterior cruciate ligament when I was 17 playing college football and wasn't able to play again for the next year and a half after the surgery," he told BBC Norfolk.

"After going through my first pre-season in America I tore my anterior cruciate ligament again as well as damaging my medial ligaments and maniscus cartilage," said Adam.

Approaching his second season, Adam hoped to finally put his injury nightmares to rest and resume doing what he loved most, playing football.

But things took another turn for the worst.

"After a good pre-season, I kept having slight problems which I thought were normal. During games I found that I was never playing 100% and it got worse over time.

"The team doctor took another look and then told me I had to make the choice of finishing playing to protect my health for later in life or to continue playing injured and face serious mobility problems as I got older," said Adam.

Adam was now faced with making one of the toughest choices in his life and his hopes of playing football at the highest level were close to being over.

"After two weeks of talking things over with my family and coaches, I decided that I would no longer play. It was devastating having to accept that my dream was over," said Adam.

Adam's coach at Lee-McRae's, Jay Benfield, was also disappointed to hear the bad news.

"It was very upsetting when Adam had to make the decision to hang up his boots as he was such a wonderful asset to our team. But following two surgeries on the same knee it was a matter of Adam's long-term health being more important than playing," said Jay.

Coaching career

Speaking to Adam, you get the impression this is a young man who is determined to carry on and achieve great things despite recent setbacks.

He's now turned his focus to coaching, quickly being given the opportunity to take up the role of assistant coach at the successful Lees-McRae, where he's relishing his new challenge.

"When I was playing, it was always a personal and team goal to win the National Championships and this has stayed with me since i've started coaching and is one of the main reasons why I was able to stay so focussed after I decided to stop playing," said Adam.

Jay Benfield, Adam's coach

And his new career in coaching has got off to a great start, impressing fellow coach Jay Benfield.

"Adam has jumped into his duties as a coach full on. He has been invaluable in helping out with training sessions, game day preparations and adding input regarding the team from a tactics and personnel stand point.

"He has shined in the position we have afforded him and expect him to carry on coaching to these high standards," said Jay.

Lees-McRae were recently ranked the best university soccer side in the whole of America.

"We've just won our conference and are striving to win the championship which would look great on my coaching CV after just one year," said Adam.

So after a turbulent past few months for Adam, the future looks bright with a successful coaching career on the horizon along with the prospect of obtaining a degree in physical education.

"I plan to get all the coaching qualifications I need to become a professional and aspire one day to become a top coach in England," said Adam.

Link to BBC Norfolk Article