John looking for redemption

2005 MLS All-Star Game: Fulham FC v MLS All-Stars

It's been a long journey for Collins John.

Bursting onto the scene in 2004 as a precocious 18-year-old, John quickly became a fan favorite at Craven Cottage. But despite displaying a solid strike rate and picking up two full international caps with Holland during his first year in the Premiership, the best was yet to come from John. He proved that with his 2005-06 season, which saw him lead Fulham with 11 league goals despite the fact that he only started 15 of the 37 games he appeared in.

Unfortunately for John, he has never been able to recreate the magic of 2005-06. He lost his place at Fulham, bounced around the second division of English soccer, failed to impress during a one-year loan with Dutch side NEC Nijmegen, and - most recently - got cut from Belgian team KSV Roeselare. Now, John finds himself on-trial with the Fire, where he is hoping he can make a good impression and jumpstart his once promising career.

"I just needed a new spot," John said. "I have played in the big competition that is the Premiership. I've played in Holland, I've played in Belgium... but after this fall I just wanted to get far away from European football and I guess that's what brought me to MLS." "Hopefully I can do well here and play well in my auditions to the team and maybe I can play and maybe in a couple of years I can go back to Europe, but you never know. I may love it here and stay for the rest of my life. It's still early days. So far I'm enjoying my time here, I'm having a good training camp and hopefully I can score a lot of goals for Chicago this season."

If John is to rack up the goals for the Fire this season, he'll be doing it in his own way. Employing a playing style he compared to that of Juventus-striker David Trezeguet, John typically looks to use a quick first step to capitalize on the mistakes of defenders.

"Obviously we've got [Patrick Nyarko] as a striker and [Brian McBride] as a striker but I think I'm a different type than both of them," John said. "McBride is good in the air and Pat is a good dribbler and I think I'm a totally different player... You might not see me for 15 minutes in a game and all of a sudden I score a goal. I'm a hunter, I just wait for the moment and then I grab it."

While past managers have criticized John for attitude and fitness problems, he has received nothing but positive remarks from the staff in Chicago.

"Collins John is a proven guy," Fire Technical Director Frank Klopas said. "He's been at a high level when he was a young player and I think his additive results have been very good. He's been working very hard to get back to the fitness level that he knows he can be at and... he has a good attitude - he gets along with the other players. It's [only a few] days into it and we'll get to know more as the days go by but so far it's been very good."

For his part, John is looking at his chance to make the Fire as an opportunity for redemption. His career has fallen a long way since he was Fulham's top goal scorer in 2005-06 and he wants to get back to the form he knows he can play at.

"I'm still a young player; I'm just 24 years old. I just want to play football and put everything behind me," John said. "I've had a great career already. I've played for a lot of big clubs, I've got three caps and last year and a half hasn't worked out for me but I guess that's football. It's ups and downs. I've been down but I want to go up this year with Chicago. Hopefully I'm going to score a lot of goals this year and forget about everything that happened in '08 and '09. That's one of the key things in sports, if things don't go well for you then you have to try and forget things and work hard and get back to the level you want to be and that's what I'm doing right now."

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It's clear to me that John has more than enough talent to be a great player in this league. The only questions for me are his work ethic and attitude. If he continues to get along with the Fire players and staff and continues to work hard to get his game up to snuff, then there is no reason why he shouldn't have success in Chicago. For now though, I'm going to remain a skeptic. With John - who hasn't exactly left his last two teams on the best terms - I'm going to have to see it to believe it.

Comments

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  • If the Fire sign him and he does good I'm sure Fire can make some money of him. Blanco had problems with fitness so I'm sure that as a young player that can be fixed the attitude I don't know but if they put the foot down I know he'll have to listen if he wants to play competitive soccer again...

  • What exactly caused his form to fall off in the first place?

  • In reply to tacologic:

    He did have some issues with a thigh injury. Other than that, I'm not quite too sure why. Could be a protracted slump or something of the like.

  • In reply to tacologic:

    I heard his contract is more along the lines of 200-300k its not like he was one of the top leagues last year.

  • In reply to tacologic:

    If he come in and lights it up and the Fire lose him to Europe, oh well. All that means is a better chance for the Fire to win MLS Cup and make some cash selling him for a few million. I would love to have him for 6-7 years where he would be Chicago's most prolific scorer, but him leaving because of great play is no disheartening loss.

  • In reply to tacologic:

    You mentioned before that he was "tearing it up" at practice. You've seen him play before, Sam. On what level is he compared to the other players? It would be awesome if he totally owned, but then again, this may be the second coming of Paulo Wanchope.

  • In reply to tacologic:

    "this may be the second coming of Paulo Wanchope"

    can't be, this guy has knees

  • In reply to Krasny:

    Good point. The best part of getting a player like this is that I get a totally awesome player for the Fire in FIFA even if he may be super-old in real life(cough cough Blanco and Wanchope). So, now I can try to create a 3-2-5 with Blanco, who I still haven't transferred, John, Rolfe, and McBride. This is gonna be awesome.

  • In reply to Krasny:

    Yea but when the roster update comes out you lose Rolfe and Blanco.

  • In reply to bulls428:

    They don't update rosters for MLS. I don't mind that much, Rolfe is a beast in FIFA 10. The best, though, is Jon Busch. He looks like Casillas in FIFA. Who plays FIFA on Xbox? I'll take down any challenger.

  • In reply to bulls428:

    The rosters get updated for MLS just like every other league.

  • What will his contract with Chicago be anyway? I'm thinking that if he was already playing in Europe and was somewhat kind of a big deal when he was younger, he would be looking for no less than $1 million a year... If he does really well this year, he could make double that in Europe next year, I don't know if we can match that.

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