In the latest of our exclusive blogs, we corner a star of the New York Red Bulls soccer team and shoot them a few questions about life in New York and New Jersey and playing in the MLS. Today's player in focus is coach, Mike Petke.
Name: Mike Petke
Position: Individual Development Coach & former player
Birthplace: Bohemia/New York
Date of birth: January 30, 1976
Which players did you most admire when you where younger?
You probably have never heard of him…there was a kid on my street named Kevin Anderson, who went on to play in the Olympics for the USA but obviously you mean world stars, right?
Yes, but let’s talk about them later. So why did you admire Kevin Anderson so much?
Well, when I was growing up there were no soccer channels on TV as there are now. The World Cup I believe in 1986 I was watching on a Spanish channel in black and white. And they also didn’t broadcast all of the games – I think they were showing just one a day. So I wasn’t aware of any superstars really. And Kevin was older than me, living next to me and I looked up to him and I have to say I also learned a lot of him. He was my idol…the kid from the neighbourhood.
That’s a really nice story…but you also mentioned that later there were also some worldstars. Who were they?
Pele, Maradona and Franz Beckenbauer, those type of guys.
And which club did you support when you were younger?
When I was really young it was the New York Cosmos. But we used to get the English Premier League once in a while, maybe once a month, and yes, in black and white. So of course it was Manchester United. And I also like Liverpool.
So are you excited that Manchester United are coming to the Red Bull Arena next Wednesday to play against the MLS All Star Team?
Of course. I mean every time when you have a team like this coming over to play it is very exciting and I think it’s going to be great for the New York area and the Major League Soccer as a whole.
What has been your career highlight to date?
Probably playing in New York for eight years…for my hometown, which is a thrill, or winning a championship along the way with DC United. But also just being exposed to so many great players and coaches. For example now, you have a guy like Hans Backe who has coached in Mexico the National Team and in England at Manchester City. To be able to work side by side with him here at the New York Red Bulls and to learn from him is just unbelievable for me. Fifteen years ago, when I came into the MLS, an opportunity like that wouldn’t have been possible.
You are the Coach for Individual Development at RBNY, so who has the best repertoire of soccer tricks at the moment? What do you think?
In my eyes, Mehdi Ballouchy, although I think when Titi (Thierry Henry) turns it on he would probably do something special. But actually when we are really talking about who has the best repertoire of soccer tricks there is just no doubt that I am the best [jokes]. But you know even as a defender not many people realise how good my feet were and I do go home and practice on my tricks every single day. So when the time is right and the moment presents itself I will display them for everyone to see!
What is your favourite part of New York/New Jersey?
I grew up in New York so I am a New York boy through and through. The city is everything you could ever want. You know I have lived here for 35 years and I still see things I have never seen before. Currently I live in New Jersey at the beach. So for me the Jersey shore is second to none and I really enjoy the time there. Right down the street and there is the beach…that's great.
But you as an New Yorker through and through, can you just give us a tip where the best place in the city is?
You know I am nowadays more a relaxed bar type guy, not a crazy club guy. I have always liked McSorley’s Old Ale House which is the oldest Irish pub in New York. And I also love Down The Hatch which is in the Village and has the best Buffalo wings I have ever tasted and great prices on beer.
Sounds nice! You have a really busy job, go a lot on roadtrips with team during the season, so where do you realx best from working and coaching the squad?
At the beach or laying down and watching my two boys wrestle and play soccer, but then it is only a matter of minutes till they ask me to join them and then I am not relaxing anymore! But that is totally OK.
- Check out the New York Red Bull's site
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- Thierry Henry interview
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