In the diverse world of soccer we currently live in, it is commonplace to hear of players who leave their home country to carve out careers elsewhere. For the New England Revolution’s Andy Dorman, this exact phenomenon has been playing out for the last 15 years in Boston.
Along the way, Dorman, 32, has encountered several bumps in the road, but most importantly has embarked on a journey that has molded him into the athlete and man he is today. The Chester, England native is currently enjoying the twelfth year of his professional career and nearly all of it has centered around a city that welcomed him with open arms.
★ ★ ★
Dorman’s Boston-centric journey began in the late 1990’s when he suited up for the Wales U-18 team. Scouts from numerous American colleges were in attendance and the rangy midfielder caught the eye of several who were vigilantly watching.
Ultimately, talks developed with Neil Roberts, the head coach of the Boston University men’s soccer team, and in the fall of 2000 Dorman was across the pond playing college soccer for the Terriers.
There were encouraging signs on the field, as Dorman was playing a decent amount, but adjusting to life in a city an ocean away from home was admittedly difficult.
"It was awesome playing at BU, but the first year was tough because I was 17, 18 and having a tough time of it going from Wales to the US," Dorman said. "I remember enjoying the soccer side of it, but off the field it was tough being away from my family and such."
Despite the struggles that his freshman year threw his way, Dorman became increasingly comfortable on and off the field. He recorded seven goals and 13 assists during his sophomore season, which was good for second on the team in points, and Boston slowly began to feel more like home.
"After that I really enjoyed it and settled in well during the second year and really enjoyed playing under Neil," Dorman said. "I just really enjoyed being up in Boston, being at BU, and studying there."
Through dedication, commitment, and persistence, all of which are characteristics that define Dorman’s style of play, he finished out his career at BU with aplomb. He earned All-New England honors twice during his time as a Terrier and was eligible for the MLS draft following his senior season.
As luck would have it, Dorman was selected by Boston’s (and the rest of New England’s) MLS team: the Revs. Former coaches Steve Nicol and Paul Mariner took a liking to the skillful and hard working midfielder and provided him with the opportunity to finish his BU degree, all while playing for their team.
Simply, Boston had provided Dorman with the opportunity to be a collegiate student-athlete and was now offering him the chance to fulfill his dream of playing professional soccer.
"It worked out perfectly," Dorman said. "I got to finish up school during the same time as I was training and getting through preseason. I got a chance to play under Steve Nicol and Paul Mariner, who were big names from England when I was growing up. It ended up working out really really well."
He forged out four strong seasons for the Revs from 2004 to 2007, in which he scored 17 goals and recorded 18 assists, but eventually his contract ran out and ulterior options entered the frame. Boston had played an immensely positive role in Dorman’s late teens and early twenties, but it appeared time to say temporarily say farewell.
★ ★ ★
When the 2007 offseason rolled around, Dorman was out of contract and in search of a place to ply his trade. Rather than staying in MLS, which he had prospered in, he returned back home to the UK.
"It was something that I always wanted to do in my career, play football back in the UK," Dorman said. "When my contract was up with the Revs it was the ideal chance to make the move back and it ended up being Scotland at first."
His UK spell began with three strong seasons at St. Mirren of the Scottish Premiership. Dorman then ventured to England’s Crystal Palace for two seasons, the latter of which was broken up by a loan to Bristol Rovers, a lower division English side.
By and large, Dorman’s five seasons back in the UK can be considered a success, as he amassed over 100 appearances and scored 20 goals. Nonetheless, the desire to return to Boston - a city that he called home for so long - remained.
When his contract with Palace was mutually terminated in late summer of 2012, the option to head back to New England arose and he made the fateful decision to return with no regrets.
"It was good just to get back to Boston and the tide of the team wasn’t what it was before, but at the same time it was the only squad with the potential to do really well," Dorman said. "Since Jay [Heaps] took over things are looking are up, so it was a simple decision to make in the end."
★ ★ ★
That simple decision has reaped immense dividends, as Boston has increasingly become a defining aspect of his life.
Upon his return, he has emerged as a veteran leader on the field and become one of Heaps’ most trusted players. Furthermore, Dorman is relishing the chance to compete again in Boston and is appreciating the moment more every time he steps on the pitch.
"In your professional career you don’t know how long you’ve got in the sport and every day you’re thinking it could be your last," he said. "It’s still the same now, but it’s a little more relaxed in the sense that I’ve been playing football for 10 years now. I probably appreciate every day a little more and go out and enjoy it more than worrying about what will happen in the future."
With all of that in mind, Dorman’s decision to come to Boston 15 years ago has resulted in more positives than he could have imagined. It has provided him with success on the field, the chance to earn a world class education, and carve out a future for his family.
He may have English and Welsh blood running through his veins, but Boston has truly become his home away from home.
"Me and my wife have got a daughter who was born here now and we’re lucky to be in the area and we’re really enjoying it here," Dorman said. "We really see Boston as our home in the future and it’s definitely become our home away from home."