“It was all in God’s timing. I think he will fit right in to the European atmosphere. He always dreamed of this chance and now that it’s here, I’m sure he will take it all in” said Paulette Croft, mother of Brett Croft.
Sitting 30,000 feet high in the sky, Brett Croft sat silently aboard a Norwegian Airliner. He was leaving his friends, family and the comfort of his home in pursuit of a dream held close to his heart from an early age, to be a professional soccer player.
His journey overseas wasn’t simple, but it was profitable. Through adversity, the adventure would shape him into a stronger man than he thought possible.
“I’ve never put so much trust in God than I did while in the Stockholm International Airport for the first 24 hours of my journey,” Croft says.
His three-month trip to Sweden began while vacationing in Newport Beach in July 2015. While already at the house for a few days, enjoying family time with his mother and father, he received a call from his Pro Soccer Consultant agent explaining that a third-division professional team in Sweden had contacted him and were interested in signing Croft to a one-year professional contract.
Immediately, Croft returned home, packed his bags, and within hours was on a flight to Stockholm. His goodbyes to friends and family were quick, but Croft knew that not many people encountered opportunities like this.
“It was the rudest awakening for me being on vacation with my family and then, less than 24 hours later, trekking alone in Stockholm International Airport with nobody to talk to but myself and a piece of paper with an address scribbled on it that I had to travel to,” Croft said.
During his first 24 hours in Sweden, Croft encountered more adversity than he ever experienced. Being in another country where English speakers were practically nonexistent and where he couldn’t tell a bowling alley sign from a coffee shop, Croft knew that many harder challenges were ahead of him. His love for soccer was the only thing keeping him from boarding a flight back to California, to a place where he felt secure and comfortable.
“I told him from the start that it’s going to be different. He’s going to want to come home when faced with new adversities,” said Jordan Edwards, Croft’s four-year roommate at The Master’s College. “But he was always one to fight. He was always one to embrace change to the best of his ability.”
Initial interest in Croft came from a footballing club knows as Mellerudes IF, but upon his arrival in Stockholm, the club revoked that its interest, leaving him stranded in another country. However, after deliberation with club Mellerudes IF officials, and after a short travel to their training facility, Croft was signed to a half season deal after a day trial with the first team.
“It was pretty nerve-racking because I hadn’t ran or done anything training wise in days and this was the practice where I was on official trial, but thank God they really wanted me after only one session and the rest played out very smoothly,” Croft said.
After he signed with Mellerudes IF, the club purchased property for Croft in Vita Sannar where he lived for two weeks. Traveling from home to training everyday by bike, Croft began to settle well in the European atmosphere.
Training with the club occurred regularly in the mornings with weight room training in the evening, but in between the two, Croft found the lifestyle of the Swede’s to be more relaxed than expected.
“Time is not as important over there as it is in the US,” Croft said. “If you have work at 8 a.m., and you wake up at 8:15, you take your time. You drink your coffee and read your paper. Then you leave.”
After his stay in Vita Sannar, Croft was welcomed into the home of Mellerudes IF head coach David Svenson for the remainder of his stay in Sweden. Living at the Svenson’s estate, Croft grew close to the family. During this time, they expressed to him that they were believers.
“I felt really blessed being able to live with fellow Christians,” Croft said. “Who would have thought that this is how my living conditions would have panned out, half way around the world? God really was looking out for me and for that; I felt extremely blessed.”
Three weeks before returning to the states, Croft’s mother paid him a warm visit, staying with him at the Svenson estate for a week. Shortly after her visit, the season concluded with Croft tallying seven Goals and four assists during his stint with Mellerudes IF.
While his time in Sweden was thoroughly enjoyed, Croft was excited to return back home to his friends and family. He has since been offered multiple offers overseas in Europe, but plans on relaxing back home for a while before making his next career decision.
“I’ve learned so much about myself, about God and about what I’m truly capable of accomplishing when I put my mind to it,” Croft says. “I think for me, I needed that opportunity to play in Sweden. It ensured me that I have what it takes to play at the next level and I will take that confidence with me wherever I go next. God was so good to me in Sweden and I know he will provide another chance for me to continue to pursue my dreams in the coming future.”
Now that Croft is settled back at home, he is enjoying his time of rest. He is coaching soccer at the high school level, while playing semi-professional soccer for the SCV Storm located in Santa Clarita. In December while vacationing in Chicago, Croft plans a trial with another semi-professional team. His dreams to play at the next level are still very much alive.
“He has the talent to play the game professionally,” says Fabrice Gautrat, former college coach of Croft. “All he needs to focus on is continuing his drive and pursuit of bettering himself day in and day out. In this, his skill alone will push him towards his goal.”
By Zach Klindworth