Free Agent - Rohan Ricketts
Rohan Ricketts is back in England after leaving Toronto FC and desperate to prove himself.
Last Updated: 10/08/09 3:38pm
After a spell abroad with Toronto FC that broadened his experience and offered a fresh perspective on his life as a footballer, Rohan Ricketts is back in England and on the lookout for a new club.
The talented midfielder elected to leave Toronto in the aftermath of head coach John Carver's decision to quit the MLS outfit.
His time in Canada was far from wasted though as Ricketts had the opportunity to establish himself as a first team regular and flourish as a result of guaranteed playing time.
Having experienced somewhat of a stop-start career since his early, hugely promising days at Tottenham, Ricketts is desperate for the opportunity to realise an undoubted - albeit largely untapped - potential.
"I'm back in England since last week; it's the first time I've been back home since I left," Ricketts told skysports.com.
"I had a mutual parting of ways. I had another year out there but when John Carver left the club I decided to come back and play in Europe, which is where football is number one.
"It was a good experience; it was nice to get a different perspective on things. Last season I played all of the games, so for me it was an opportunity to go away and prove that I can be a regular in a first team.
"When I did that I achieved something for myself. I got myself in the right mental space and realised what it takes. I want to come back now and show everyone what I can do.
"I think in the past I've proven I've got talent but perhaps haven't had my mind right.
"I appreciate now so much that I'm a professional footballer. There are so many people out there who would love to be a professional footballer but will never have that chance.
"It's a precious thing and I'm determined to keep hold of it."
Ricketts has already attracted attention from a number of English clubs but is keen to keep his options open. Having had his appetite for foreign football whetted by his MLS sojourn, the 26-year-old is open to the idea of trying his hand overseas again, where he believes the style of football could suit his natural game.
"I've had people speak to me already because I've got a decent CV," he added. "I'm hungry to get back, to show supporters what I've got.
"I think I can still do something important in the game. Glenn Hoddle said I'd play at the highest level and coming from someone who was the England manager, it means a lot.
"I know what I can do; now I want to fulfil that. It's about putting my foot back in the door, at the right club.
"I'm open to playing abroad again, definitely. There's a lot of kick and rush in English football. Although, obviously, there are plenty of exceptions and I'd love to play for those teams. But it would need a manager to know what he's bringing in and how to use me effectively.
"If you're a touch player, be it Iniesta or whoever, you're not going to see the best of them unless you play proper football. Put Iniesta in League One and he won't be the same player as he is at Barcelona.
"In England we don't play that way, the style of Spain or wherever. Iniesta and Xavi are obviously world class, but it's the same for all touch players, it can be tough in England. It's easy to get overlooked. Someone like Iniesta, would only be best employed at a club like Arsenal."
Ricketts admits a move to Spain or Greece holds its attractions: "Spain or Greece would be good. If I'm not going to be playing in the Premier League over here I'd love to play in the top league in another country.
"A lot of English players have an Islander mentality - they want to stay here, live a certain life - I'd like to try something different. Footballers are like pop stars.
"When I was younger I tasted that life, now I've matured and I'm hungry for something different. Getting caught up in that lifestyle got me to where I am now. As a result I'm hungrier, humbler, and looking for that opportunity.
"I've realised I'm privileged to do what I do and I'm good at it. I need to realise my potential and I'm determined to do just that. Life's too short."
While his long-term aim is to get back to the Premier League, Ricketts - who's accrued plenty of handy experience of Championship football during spells at Wolves and Barnsley - accepts the second tier of English football is of interest.
"It's a competitive league and I'm certainly interested in it.
"I know I've got the right mindset now and know I've always had the raw tools. My mind was taken off the target a bit but I'm still only 26 and I've seen the light. And I'm so hungry. I just want to play football - it's something that I've got to do."
Desperate to play at the highest level possible, Ricketts is confident of proving himself via a trial if foreign clubs wish to seem him at close quarters.
"I've had offers from League One but I think, at this stage, I'd rather go abroad. If someone has seen my CV and they want to have a look at me for a couple of days I'd be up for that.
"I'm willing to show them what I can do; there are worse things that are going on in the world. I'm grateful for being in the position to go on trial, there are plenty of talented players, who I grew up alongside, who haven't had another chance and drifted out of the game.
"I'm fortune, and if it meant going on trial overseas I'd be up for it, definitely.
"I can play left, right or centre, I can use both feet. I like to go past people and I've been raised with a good schooling in the game. At Arsenal they teach you how to play the game the right way."
Ricketts started his career at Arsenal but hungry for further first team opportunities, made the unusual step of crossing the North London divide to become only the fourth player to make the switch from the Gunners to Spurs.
It was Glenn Hoddle that spotted the two-footed midfielder's potential as he handed him his debut and under the former England boss the Spurs starlet flourished in the Premier League.
After quickly establishing himself as a player to keep an eye on, Sven Goran Eriksson's right man Tord Grip spoke of his potential and there was even talk of possible international recognition.
However, when Hoddle was sacked Ricketts soon found himself out of favour, as the changes at White Hart Lane proved to be to his detriment.
"Glenn Hoddle gave me my chance at Tottenham and I won player of the month twice in a row," he added.
"When he left I was the first out of the team; football is all about opinions.
"It's a funny game. If Glenn Hoddle hadn't been sacked it might have been a lot different. Glenn was my manager at Wolves, and maybe I shouldn't have gone there when I did because I had other Premier League teams interested, but he was an important figure in my career.
"I was thinking all the time about a reunion with Glenn. The guy knew me, liked me and understood how to get the most out of me. When he left Mick McCarthy took over and we never quite saw eye-to-eye.
"But I understand now, I'm a different person. And desperate to show what I've got."