BRIAN SCIARETTA - Thursday, February 4, 2010
At a time when most young American players face decisions as to where to start their professional or college careers, 18-year old Josh Gatt has decided to forego college and sign with SCR Altach of Austria's second division.
Gatt had previously planned to attend college and play for the NCAA perennial power Indiana Hoosiers, but the opportunity to play professionally in Europe offered him a chance to follow his dream.
"Ever since I was younger I've always told my parents that I've wanted to be a professional soccer player in Europe," Gatt told YA on his move to Altach. "Once I actually had the opportunity, there was no way I could turn it down because it's really my dream to be over there. It's where I really feel I need to be."
Despite having signed, Gatt plans to join SCR Altach in June for the start of the 2010-2011 season. It is unclear yet which division Altach will be playing in when Gatt arrives as they are presently in the middle of an intense promotion battle. They enter February trailing first place Innsbruck by only four points.
Regardless of which division Altach plays in next year, Gatt feels as if he will be part of the team's plans. He looks forward to the opportunity to both help his new team and grow as a player.
"The plans for me in the first season are that they want me to get there early in June and work on the kinks in my game," Gatt said of his plans for his first year. "But then they want me hopefully to be the starter on the first team by their first game in July."
"Whatever division they are playing in, my goal is to come in and make a difference and help the team be successful," Gatt explained.
Gatt was first discovered by Altach when he was playing with his youth team, USFC Blue Stars, in a tour in Switzerland where they were playing the academy teams for various European clubs. Gatt's play in this tour impressed the scouts that were on hand during the games.
"While I was over there, I played pretty well and the team went undefeated. Some teams saw some interest in me," the Plymouth, Michigan native recalled. "The day before we were supposed to leave for home, [my coach Jon Spencer] pulled me aside and told me that Mainz in Germany and SCR Altach in Austria wanted me to come and try out for them. "
"I stayed around for an extra week and tried out for both," Gatt continued. "Ever since then, we've been talking. SCR Altach really liked me so they wanted me to come and sign with them. It's just been a six month process to figure out the contract and it just got finished and I have signed."
Now having signed with Altach, Gatt will be looking to continue to develop his game. Gatt had previously been playing as a forward but recently switch to the midfield where he plays both right and left wing. At these positions, he feels as if he can best utilize his speed and dribbling skills which are the foundation of his game. Gatt said that Altach will further improve him as an overall player.
"I also feel the training and coaching I will get at Altach will make me a much more successful player than I am now," Gatt said. "Hopefully through that, I will be able to continue my career in Europe."
While Gatt has never played for any of the US's youth national teams, he said that his overall goal is to play in the World Cup.
"One of my main goals is to play in the World Cup someday," Gatt concluded. "That's the highest level in the sport and that's where I want to be."