By Chris Wright
Does the name ‘Matt Eliason’ ring any bells? If not, then allow us to refresh your memories.
Eliason was the former US college player (the Northwestern Wildcats’ all-time leading goalscorer, no less) who was one of several amateurs who turned out in the heavily criticised “Messi & Friends” charity game at Soldier Field in Chicago last July.
The former Northwestern striker was one of the many local college players used to pad out the extremely weak “World XI” side that took on Messi’s cronies, with Thierry Henry, Florent Malouda and Alex Song being the only high-profile professionals in the squad.
However, it was Eliason that stole the thunder on the day when, after half-an-hour or so, he dispatched a blistering overhead kick to put the World XI 2-3 up – a stunning goal which immediately went viral around the world…
Now for the good news. Rather than just having a superb anecdote under his belt for the rest of his life, Eliason has now, eight months down the line, landed himself his first professional contract having signed for Icelandic first division side Throttur FC.
Eliason had been on trial with the club throughout winter and has now agreed a contract, meaning he is scheduled to begin pre-season in April when Throttur come to England for a short tour of friendly games.
Eliason, who will be taking a leave of absence from his job as a financial analyst in Chicago to go and play in Iceland, said:
“I’m very excited to be joining Throttur FC and look forward to the challenge of competing in Iceland. I’d like to give special thanks to (Northwestern) coach Tim Lenahan for all his support of the last few years, even after I graduated from Northwestern.
“Having the chance to play with my former Northwestern teammates in the ‘Messi and Friends’ game was a special experience that I will never forget.
“Thanks also to Northwestern Athletic Communications Department for helping to circulate the ‘Messi and Friends’ story to allow me to prolong my soccer career.
“Lastly, I’d like to thank my employer, GE Capital, for giving me the flexibility to pursue my dream of playing soccer.
“Overall, I’m excited for a new adventure and can’t wait to join up with my new club.”
Well played that man, well played indeed.
A short-term deal in the Icelandic top flight may not be particularly illustrious in the grand scheme of things, but Eliason is now getting paid to do the thing he loves – which is further than most of us will ever get and that should never be sniffed at.