One of Colchester United’s Academy graduates is carving himself out a new life in football, having moved to the United States for his next chapter.
Milo Downey began his life with the U’s aged just four, participating in the club’s Football in the Community courses, before later joining the club’s Academy and progressing through to become an U18s player.
He then retained his connection with the club by coaching in the club’s Football in the Community programme for two years, as he developed his skills off the pitch.
But now he has headed to Billings, Montana in the United States to continue playing and undertake a Major in Business Management.
Milo is settling into life across the Atlantic and told us: “I always had it in mind that if I was unsuccessful in making a career in football in England, I would give America a try.
“Putting the same effort in my academics as well as football left me with the opportunity to go to college in USA.
“I have always wanted to experience a different way of life, and moving several miles away from home has certainly created that scenario. The opportunity to continue training and playing football is something is that I want and the University life in America is exactly that.”
Milo will be turning out for the Rocky Mountain College team during his time in America and has already played a couple of games with his new teammates.
As he explained, though, it won’t just be a question of playing football whilst he’s there.
“There is a real balance between football and education. I will have classes Monday to Friday, with the same for training; with games at the weekend.
“If I fail to maintain my grades or I let them slip then I will not be able to play games so it is important to apply the same effort in the classroom as well as on the field.
“We play in a conference league which is other Universities in the Cascade region of the United States.
“If we are successful in winning this then there are other opportunities in the Nationals to play against other teams that won their conference. It is a lot different to England league system, I don't quite yet understand it fully!
“The benefits are both educational and from a football point of view. I get to continue to train and play at a high standard - allowing myself to learn still and get better.
“Most importantly, I am coming away with a degree setting me up for life. So in four years’ time, I will be employable and will hopefully be able to continue to play at highest standard of football I can.”
He may now be over nineteen hours travelling time from home, but he’s well aware of how his time in Colchester has set him up for his new experience.
“The foundation of my football ability has been nurtured by Colchester, especially the different things I have picked up from all the coaches I have worked with,” he said.
“The multiple years I have spent in the system has provided an opportunity to grow and improve.”
That time in Colchester was bookended by Milo’s time with the club’s Football in the Community programme and Head of Community Corin Haines is proud to see how things have unfolded for the talented midfielder.
Corin said:”Milo’s journey is a real success story for all connected to Colchester United. At the age of four he started recreational activities with us, later joining our Development Centre before signing as an Academy player and then youth team scholar.
“Following Milo’s two year scholarship, he joined the our Football in the Community coaching team were he was employed as one of our community sports coaches.
“Within this role he provided participants with expert advice and shared his own experiences extremely effectively.
“We wish him every success in America as he continues to develop his coaching and playing careers.”