Former ETSU men’s soccer player Charlie Machell has signed a professional soccer contract
with Danish side Thisted FC.
Machell spent one season with the Bucs after transferring from Wingate University in North
Carolina, where he gained All-American honors as well as SAC conference player of the year.
Hailing from Newcastle, England, caught the eye of many for his tenacious work rate, skill on
the ball and leadership qualities. We caught up with him on his new life in Europe.
Q: How did you come about to playing in Denmark?
Machell: I was contacted by an agent who was actually asking me to consider going to play in Sweden
just after the collegiate season had finished. At the time I still had one semester left of
school and wanted to get a degree in case playing professionally didn’t work out. I was
invited to a European combine by the agent which had scouts from 6 different teams
around Scandinavia including Thisted FC. After the combine the coach contacted me inviting
me into a trial at the club and after 2 weeks I had signed my contract.
Q: Was it an easy move for you?
Machell: To start with it wasn’t an easy move. I had four years of personal belongings from America
and suddenly changing at the last minute was quite difficult. However, it got easier as I got
to the club and got into a routine again. It’s always hard leaving things behind but having
left home at 18 to come to America it was a little easier for me.
Q: What is the standard of soccer like?
Machell: The standard is definitely the best I have ever played at. The pace of the game over here is
so fast and the fitness elements are very tough to get used to. Every player is very clever on
the ball so you have to think two steps ahead. Some of the teams in the league have been in
Europe’s best competitions and have players who play for their country with a lot of
Q: Did playing in U.S. help you into professional soccer?
Machell: I think that playing in the U.S. definitely matured me as a player. It gave me an opportunity
to play four important years at a good standard. A lot of people drop out of the game at 18
if they haven’t signed for a team, but playing in the U.S. is the best option at that point in
my opinion. It’s a bit surreal thinking that I got into the professional game by going to the
U.S. and coming back to Europe. Soccer works in weird ways and everyone has different
Q: What is the lifestyle like for a professional soccer player?
Machell: The lifestyle has taken a little bit of time getting used to, and to be honest I’m still not
completely used to it! You have to look after your body at all times, making sure you are in
the best condition possible going into training every day. You don’t get much of a break so it
means getting the right amount of sleep and eating and drinking the correct things. You are
definitely limited to what you can do, but that’s part of having the best job in the world.
Waking up and being able to go to the gym and then training is an amazing feeling. There is
also a lot of time in the day that you have free, so I’m going to try and get a little bit better
Q: How is it different from a collegiate career?
Machell: In college you always have to balance your time between classes, social life and training,
whereas in the professional game you only have one main priority which is constantly trying
to be the best on the field. There is a lot more pressure on you to perform here as you are
fighting for your job or your managers job.
In college if you have a bad season but are a good player you will be given the benefit of the
doubt, but in the professional game if you have a bad season you can be out of the game as
quickly as you got into it. Being able to perform and succeed every year is essential to a
Q: Do you miss ETSU?
Machell: I definitely miss ETSU and all the people there. Out of my four collegiate years, my one year
at ETSU was the best and I met some amazing people. The soccer program at ETSU is one
that really helps players and welcomes people; from the coaches all the way down to the
players. I was very lucky to be surrounded by the people I met and wouldn’t change it for
Q: TWhat advice would you have for other players hoping to achieve a pro career?
Machell: I think having the mentality to be the best in training and games no matter who you are or
who you’re playing against. I also think doing extra than what you have been asked is key.
Listening to advice from people who have played the game at that level is also important.
Never stop believing that you can get to the level you want to get to.
Everyone’s path into the game is different. You may be let down and disappointed, or think
you deserved more. However, once you get the opportunity you have been waiting for, then
it’s up to you.
This article was contributed by ETSU journalism major Jonny Sutherland, who also plays goalkeeper for the ETSU men’s soccer team.