Auston Trusty GFXGOAL

EXCLUSIVE: Sheffield United defender Auston Trusty on his USMNT dreams, life in the Premier League & the close calls that nearly ended his career before it began

The wildest thing about Auston Trusty's story so far is how many lucky breaks it took for him to write it. There were so many near-misses, so many sliding-doors, life-altering, last-gasp saves that prevented him from falling out of soccer altogether.

Like the one that saw a youth coach grab him on his way off the field after being told he wouldn't make the Philadelphia Union's academy team just to offer him one more shot. Or like a different coach seeing his name on the 'cut' list after his first year in that academy before manually moving it over himself, keeping Trusty's dream alive. If you believe in multiverses, there are a billion where Trusty went on to do something else, anything else. It just so happens this one is the one where the stars aligned and he gets to play in the Premier League every weekend.

There are lots of stories that led him to this point, and he wants to tell them all someday. A podcast, a book, some speech somewhere...who knows when he'll have the time to finally sit down and lay it all out. But the main gist of all of those stories is this: getting this far has been a blessing.

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"When I go out to games or when days are hard, you have to know your why," Trusty tells GOAL. "I've thought about it a lot this year, but you have to know why you're doing this. One of my whys is to inspire millions of kids. If you knew my story, you'd never think I should be in this position, but I always believed in it. I always believed in myself and I backed myself."

So, as he approaches a massive few months for club and country, the 25-year-old defender is ready to bet on himself again. He's betting on himself and his club, Sheffield United, to battle their way out of the massive hole they're in and fight back against relegation. He's betting on himself to continue growing and growing until a spot on the U.S. men's national team is his. And, most of all, he's betting on himself to make the most of these chances he's been given after coming way too close to losing all of this long before it ever began.

GOAL caught up with Trusty to talk life in England, his USMNT dreams, being his own biggest critic and what he's learned along the way...