Patchogue, NY| After serving as assistant coach of the St. Joseph's College (L.I.) men's soccer team during the 2018 season, Robert Gomez packed his bags and left for Europe where he has since played professionally.
Gomez played four years as a defender with the Golden Eagles (2013, 2014, 2016, 2017) and was a Skyline All-Conference Second-Team selection in 2017.
After leading SJC to the Skyline Conference Championship game as a senior, Gomez joined Jason Orban's staff ahead of his first season as head coach. The Golden Eagles went 5-4-1 in conference play in 2018 and were defeated in the first round of the conference playoffs.
Motivated to pursue a professional playing career, Gomez linked up with clubs in Europe and settled in Germany where he played 11 games and scored twice for seventh division side 1. FCA 04 Darmstadt during the 2018-19 season. We caught up with Robert in April and spoke about his experiences abroad.
SJC: Please give a brief summarization of your experiences abroad.
RG: Being abroad has been a great experience. I've had the opportunity to learn a new culture which is always fun and exciting. Going to new cities that I've never thought I'd go to or only seen on TV has been awesome. Also, from what I've experienced, the people are friendly and willing to help you out if you ask.
SJC: Why did you pursue professional soccer abroad?
RG: I pursued professional soccer abroad because it has always been my dream to play soccer for a living. In America, it's super hard to make it as a pro if you didn't go to a D-I school or play in a professional academy team. A lot of the time those teams are looking for foreigners to come and play. So when I got this opportunity to go and play in Germany there was no question about it.
SJC: How have you found the competition compared to the competition in the Skyline Conference?
RG: It's a big difference in my opinion. The guys here may not be the fittest here but technically they are good. They know what to do and how to execute, and the reason is that they have been playing the game since they were super little. In America, most of the kids play more than one sport, whereas here it's just futbol.
SJC: What's next for you?
RG: For me, I just want to move my way up the chain and get to the highest level I can, whether that be here in Germany or somewhere else in the world. I just want to keep playing the sport that I love.
SJC: Any advice to SJC student-athletes with professional ambitions?
RG: My advice would be if you have the opportunity to go and play the sport that you love for a living go and do it, wherever it might be. Use it to travel the world. Just in 2018 alone, thanks to soccer, I went to Spain, Costa Rica, Iceland and now I'm in Germany, so use the opportunity for your advantage. If you do what you love for a living you will never work a day in your life.
SJC: What's are the biggest cultural differences between Europe and Long Island?
RG: I've noticed that everyone here is laid back and relaxed. Germans have the stereotype of being aggressive and angry people but since my time here I've met some really nice people and everyone is really chilled out. And it hasn't just been in Germany; I've been to Spain and Iceland and it was the same over there. People seem like they have no stress from the world around them and I love that about here.
Gomez's 2018-19 season is now completed and he is currently waiting on a transfer to a new club.