The soccer coach is in no doubt that Sir Alex Ferguson’s endorsement of his personal qualities helped him to secure a three-year visa to the United States.
The internationally famous letter writer also says that he was terribly sorry that an injury had cruelly ended what had promised to be a glittering career.
But Grogan’s membership of the Irish team that went to the under-16 European Championships in 1998 is arguably just as relevant, given that the Dublin-born co-owner of Metro Soccer Elite is now teaching the game to youngsters for a living. Brian Kerr, who later managed the senior national team, inspired his charges to beat the best that the Continent had to offer. They took the cup home.
Grogan said, however: “You can learn as much as you can from the great football minds, but you’ve got to put your own personality into it, too.”
A few years before that European victory, Grogan was tapped to spend a training week at Manchester United. As he preparing to go home after what would have been a memorable experience for any 12-year-old boy, he heard a booming Scottish voice from the top of a stairway. “Grogan, get up here,” it said.
“I was surprised he even knew who I was,” he recalled a decade and half later. When Grogan went into the office and closed the door behind him, Ferguson took a machete out of his draw and put it to his throat. “I’m the boss,” he said.
“When those pleasantries were over, he sat me down and told me how well I had done over the week,” Grogan said. The Manchester United boss said that if he kept improving, they would be keen to sign him at age 16. And the club did duly sign him. Grogan went on to train with superstars like Roy Keane, but a serious recurring pelvic injury halted his professional career before it had started.
“There has to be that element of fear, especially when you’re dealing with egos of the top professionals,” he said about Ferguson “On the other hand, he was very approachable.
“He has a great presence about him,” he added
There are no machetes, it should be noted, at clinics run by Metro Soccer Elite.
“Participation is a big part of it,” he said. “We don’t discriminate against anybody.”
And yet Grogan has the contacts in England for those who show real talent.
Kevin Grogan is coaching a soccer clinic at Tibbetts Brook Park, Yonkers, on Saturday, Nov. 14 for 10-12 year-olds from Noon to 2 p.m. and for those 13 and older from 2 p.m. For more information go to http://www.metrosoccerny.com/elite.