November 21, 2014
Grant Ward doesn’t turn 20 until December. There aren’t many 19-year old English footballers who can say they’ve experienced top-flight football in another country.
It was a very brave decision of Ward to move halfway across the world to play for Chicago Fire in the MLS. The move has paid off, though, and after 20 appearances for ‘The Fire’ (scoring once), Ward has come back to Tottenham with the match day experience that young players need.
Ward moved in March, and so spent around eight months in the States. He told the American press that the experience developed him and allowed him to “become more independent.” He knows that Chicago Fire want to take him back for next season, and is open to the proposal.
Grant agreed to answer a few of my questions about the move – thanks to him for taking the time.
How did the move to Chicago Fire come about?
The manger Frank Yallop was in town for a few weeks, he watched a few reserves games, I played well and he asked if I would like to have a season in the MLS.
Had you seen much MLS football before the move? Did you know what you were letting yourself in for?
I had seen an odd goal or two from Henry but, to be honest, no because games are not televised much over here. After I knew it was an option to go there I did manage to watch a few games.
Did you notice any major differences in either the coaching or playing style out there?
My coaches out there did similar sessions to what I do at Tottenham but the tempo in the MLS is a lot slower overall and I feel a lot of teams like to sit behind the ball.
What was the thing you enjoyed most about your loan experience?
I enjoyed playing against some of the players I watched growing up as a kid like, Henry, Keane, etc. I also enjoyed living in Chicago, it’s a very nice city.
And what did you enjoy least?
I enjoyed the whole experience apart from the rules that America has that no one tells you, like you cannot park near a fire-hydrant, this resulted in a few parking tickets!
Have you seen much of DeAndre Yedlin? [I was hoping that Grant may have caught him in person.]
I watched him in the World Cup, he played well when he came on and seemed to have a lot of pace.
Have you been given any feedback about the move from Spurs? Did they go to watch you out there?
Yes I received a lot of feedback and they came out to watch my last game against Houston.
Which players at Spurs do you look up to in training? Who stands out?
Growing up I always looked up to Lennon but also Eriksen and Dembele are very good trainers.
You have played at full-back and on the wing. Which position do you see yourself playing long-term?
I could see my self playing in either position but I enjoy playing on the wing or when I have the licence to go forward at full-back.
What are your aspirations for the next two or three years?
To maybe go on loan a few more times to gain some more experience to help me break into the first team.
Grant is likely to play for our Under-21s over the coming weeks, and it’ll be fascinating to see how he has progressed as a player. I wish him all the best for the future.