Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Illinois native and former Boston University standout Neil Hlavaty has found a new home after signing with Polish first division club Jagiellonia Białystok.
After deciding to turn professional following his junior year, Hlavaty began a journey that wound its way from the USL second division to reserve leagues of MLS before ultimately landing on the other side of the Atlantic.
However it was his meeting with a Polish soccer legend while in his hometown of Chicago that ultimately led to Hlavaty signing with the Ekstraklasa club.
"Neil Hlavaty's move to Jagiellonia was the result of a recommendation by Tomasz Frankowski," explained Hlavaty's agent, Eddie Rock, to YA.
"In 2008, Neil was an instrumental player in Cleveland's USL-2 Championship. At the conclusion of the USL season, Neil joined and played a number of matches for the Chicago Fire in the MLS Reserve League - where he met Frankowski."
Frankowski spent the 2008 MLS season with the Fire and saw the potential in the young American midfielder. The veteran striker, who gained fame all around Europe notably in his seven years at Ekstraklasa giant Wisla Krakow, moved on to Jagiellonia following his time with the Fire but still kept his eye on Hlavaty's progress.
Hlavaty then got his first shot with a European club earlier this year in Scandinavia where he featured in 12 matches for a Swedish club.
The time abroad in the Nordic country, combined with the Polish club's lack of midfielders due to injury created a perfect playing opportunity for the ex-America East Conference star and one in which Frankowski was happy to facilitate.
"In January 2009, Neil went on trial and signed a six month contract with Oster IF in Sweden's 3rd tier on the professional pyramid," continued Rock.
"Neil returned to Chicago in July and continued to train with the Chicago Fire until Jagiellonia's recent injury crisis in the midfield. Frankowski recommended Neil come over for a trial, whereby he was quickly offered a deal after a short week of training."
Hlavaty will look to make an impact with his new club, who sit 14th in the league standings, when Jagiellonia travel to Arka Gdynia on Friday.