Ex Toon defender Robbie Elliott helping to spread 'soccer' in the US

PUBLISHED: 22:15 22 March 2012 | UPDATED: 21:13 20 February 2013

Ex Toon defender Robbie Elliott  helping to spread 'soccer' in the US

Ex Toon defender Robbie Elliott helping to spread 'soccer' in the US

Roger Tames meets the former Newcastle defender who is helping to spread 'soccer' across the Atlantic

He may not be attracting quite the same attention as English footballs most famous ambassador in America, but Robbie Elliott is playing an important role in the future of the game in the United States.


Major League Soccer has still a way to go to establish itself as a force in club football even with the efforts of David Beckham. But the USA national team can no longer be easily dismissed, as England can testify from the last World Cup.


Gosforth born Elliott is working hard with the next generation of US internationals boys and girls as conditioning and performance coach to their under-17 and under-20 squads.


Newcastle fans will remember their former left back from two playing spells at St James Park. He was a strong and composed member of Kevin Keegans team of entertainers, often battling with John Beresford for a first team place, then enjoyed returned under Sir Bobby Robson.


Elliott moved on to Bolton Wanderers in 1997 where the disaster that struck on his debut would ultimately provide him with his present career in fitness training.


I broke my leg half an hour into my first game, explains Robbie. In those days clubs had one physio. So when it came to my rehab, I was just told to go to the gym and do whatever I wanted.


I thought I might as well find out what I should be doing so went to college in Preston and got my first qualification.


Fired by the interest in fitness coaching, Robbie was to take advantage of a return to Newcastle to enrol at Northumbria University for a degree in Sports Science. Four years of part time study later, he joined that rare group of footballing graduates.


After brief spells with Sunderland, Leeds and Hartlepool, Robbie made a third return to his home town club as he joined the United staff as a conditioning coach. But Newcastle were soon in takeover turmoil and within a year he was pursuing contacts in the States, and racking up the airmiles.


I still live in Newcastle but spend half the year travelling, not just to the states, but all over the world with the teams, says the former Gosforth High School pupil.


Football is huge now in America. Theres been a lot of progress just in the three years Ive been involved. A lot of the men are now professionals with quite a few based in Germany as well as England.


The girls have as much chance of a career in the game as the boys with plenty of football scholarships to American colleges. There are a lot of good players out there and their work ethic is unbelievable.
The girls are exactly the same.


You would have thought with the travelling and the time away, Robbie might not need another challenge. Yet this October the fitness fanatic will be setting himself a daunting test with the aim of raising money for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.


Bike for Bobby is a 3,500 mile cycle ride starting In Lisbon and visiting all the clubs where his former boss was manager. The Barcelona to Eindhoven leg is the longest with a target of 150 miles every day.


Ive done a lot of cycling in the gym but Ive never actually had a real bike before, confesses Robbie who will be accompanied on the ride by his friend, triathlete Phil Gray. Ive never been too keen on those skinny tyres on a road bike.


I owe a lot to Sir Bobby for bringing me back to Newcastle and, like so many people, I have friends and family who have been affected by cancer. So with the physical challenge as well, the ride is the perfect fit.
A saddle-sore Robbie hopes to finish his ride on a matchday at Newcastle United. This popular United old boy can be assured of a tremendous welcome.


The Robbie Elliott Foundation will raise funds for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and Breakthrough Breast Cancer. Find out more online at
www.bikeforbobby.org

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