'I'd love to finish my career in the NWSL with Gotham' – Rosette eyes US return after life-changing European experience

Sam Rosette asset 16:9GOAL

When most young soccer players sign their first professional contracts, it is not usually for a club over 6,000 miles away.

Sam Rosette had graduated college in the United States and was talking to her parents about an offer she’d got.

“Wait…” her mother said. “That’s like the farthest away. Like, so far.”

Rosette’s destination was BIIK Shymkent in Kazakhstan, a regular Women’s Champions League club that has become a hotspot for American graduates in recent years.

“You think it's not that far and then you look at a map and it's like, 'Oh my gosh,'" Rosette tells GOAL. “Then, add like the whole ocean between England and America…

“My mom kind of freaked out for a bit, but she was so supportive. They were excited for me. They were like, 'Wow, you have this opportunity!'"

Rosette knew her path would have to take her to Europe.

She started her college career at the University of Virginia, which provided the NWSL with its No.1 picks in the 2015 and 2016 Drafts, with future World Cup winners Morgan Gautrat and Emily Sonnett.

“It's just such a competitive environment,” she explains. That Rosette played alongside no fewer than nine future NWSL draft picks during her time there says it all.

“They have some of the best players in the country coming in every single year. It's hard to get your foot in the door if you're not coming in with that big name of like, 'Yeah, I play on the youth national team' or have done this, this and this.

“I was coming from the Bronx and I knew it was a stretch and I knew I was going to be competing for spots my entire time I was there.”

After getting good minutes under her belt at Villanova University while doing her master’s degree, she knew she’d have to venture abroad to make a name for herself.

“Playing in the U.S. is amazing, but you have 12 teams right now,” Rosette says. “Think about how many collegiate teams there are with players that could potentially play professionally. There are so many players competing for those very few number of spots.

“To get to play in Europe, you get to experience the rest of the world and new cultures and, honestly, going to Europe and experiencing soccer culture over there is just like a whole other experience too.

"It's good in the U.S. but when you go somewhere like England or some other countries, even just to visit, it's so amazing to see the love for the game that they have there and how ingrained it is into their cultures.

“I wouldn't put it second to the NWSL. I think it's just kind of what you make of it. It works for some people, some people it's really hard to be that far away from home. I get both, but I personally really enjoy it.”

Venturing out to Europe has allowed her to fulfil a dream by playing in the Champions League, which she remembers watching “a ton of” as a child.

“I was a big Premier League fan,” she says. “I'm a huge Manchester United fan, and have been since I was really young. Wayne Rooney is quite literally my hero.

"I watched a lot of European football as a kid. I think part of that is because, growing up in New York City, you have a really international community.

"People love soccer here and pick-up games are all over with people from hundreds of different countries, speaking five to 10 different languages in the same pick-up match.

“I got a very international introduction to soccer, which can be different for a lot of people in the U.S. coming from different states and cities and such.

"I think that was partially why I tended to go towards Europe as well, because I knew it better just from my soccer experience growing up.”

Now, she’s adding another country to her CV, playing in Lithuania for another UWCL regular, Gintra.

Also on that CV of hers is time with the reserve team at NWSL club Gotham FC, which gave her a taste of another future dream.

“The coaches that we worked with at the reserves were excellent coaches and I learned so much just in my short time of working with them,” she remembers. “I hope I get to work with them in the future, more.

“Great coaches, great players, a really professional environment, which is the perk of being connected to an NWSL programme. You really felt that professionalism, which was really cool to be a part of.

“I want to play in the best possible league that I can get to overseas, but my ultimate goal, I would love to finish my career in the NWSL playing for Gotham.

“I just kind of feel like it would be full circle to be able to come back after having this great experience in Europe and play for my home city.

“It would be really, really cool, but I'm not quite ready to give up that experience in Europe yet.”