Sebastopol Vikings recruit Lee Stevens has had some sort of journey on his way to landing at the Ballarat club – and he is excited by what he has seen.
Stevens represented England from under-14 to under-18 level and was part of South Hampton’s youth team. After being on the fringe of the national side he decided to find a “fresh change” in his soccer career which landed him in America – where he represented a couple of teams before returning to the United Kingdom.
He joined Bristol Rovers and then made his way to Salisbury City which provided him the opportunity to play on Wembley Stadium in 2008 – a dream come true.
Stevens said it was an amazing experience and still relived his header that he put straight to the goalkeeper late in the game.
“I should’ve scored too and I think my old man had money on me,” Stevens laughs.
Soccer runs in his veins, his father played for Chelsea and Stevens always hoped of doing similar at England’s top level.
But he was also a budding cricketer as a youngster – playing at county level – and admits he probably should’ve chosen to pursue one sport more heavily, but he loved playing both.
"I probably should've decided football from an early age, but I enjoyed both, and I didn't really commit to one.
"I got to a point in my soccer where I was playing with the first team, but never really having an opportunity, (I thought maybe) I might not be good enough, so I decided to head over to America.”
Stevens moved to Melbourne three years ago with his wife to continue his career as an architectural consultant. Stevens continues to work in Melbourne, but has since moved to Daylesford – a much quieter lifestyle.
"Melbourne, for me, was a bit too busy...I'm from a quieter town in the UK, so I'm used to that.”
Having had the opportunity to sign with Ballarat City, the training commitment was too much and he was put in contact with the Vikings.
Stevens spoke volumes of the club, enjoying the mix of professional training and more social environment.
"For me, it's all about that, yes we are competitive, but I want it to be social and have some fun. He (coach Corey Smith) takes it really professionally and the training is really good. It's a younger team and we've got some really good players.”
Stevens was confident the recently-promoted Vikings would be able to compete in state league 3.
"It is a good time (to come to the club)...our ambition is to challenge for promotion. We can definitely compete (in this league). I'm sure we'll win more games than we lose.”