Roger Verdi: Marking Pele and playing darts with George Best
But this was the 1970s. And notwithstanding being rated somewhat with the aid of former England supervisor Sir Bobby Robson, joining the academies of Wolves and Ipswich, or even converting his call, Verdi’s career was confined to the USA. He shared the pitch with legends of the sport – Pele, George Best, Franz Beckenbauer, Sir Geoff Hurst, Johann Cruyff, Bobby Moore, and Eusebio were among them. Now aged 66 and residing in Dallas, Texas, wherein he has worked in production when you consider retiring 32 years ago, he nevertheless possesses a written reference from Robson, scribbled down in the mid-90s to supporting Verdi discover a process in education. “Without query, I can vouch for his integrity, honesty, individual, mindset, enthusiasm, dedication and passion for Association Football,” it reads. Despite that endorsement, and former boss Harry Redknapp described him as “a strong, wholehearted participant” who “went to America and challenged superstars,” Verdi is mostly forgotten in Britain.
A ‘stage name’ – from Rajinder to Roger
Born Rajinder Singh Virdee in Nairobi, the youngest of sons to Indian Sikh mother and father – chippie Amar Singh Virdee and housewife Katar Kaur – the own family fled the Mau Mau rebellion Kenya to settle in Smethwick within the West Midlands in 1960 while he was seven. Football changed into his ardor, and at the same time as at Sandwell Boys college, Verdi eschewed Rajinder Singh Virdee for what he calls “a level name,” hoping that an exchange could assist him healthy in an open doorway in a generation while racism became rife.
Initially, usage of Roger Jones, he became Roger Jones Verdi, before deciding on Roger Verdi.
“Times have been tough for me to fulfill my dreams, and I needed to make some modifications from my lifestyle to suit inside the English surroundings to attempt to gain my desires,” he said. “I knew I needed to create surroundings far from my personal tradition to reach my dreams. I went to the Hawthorns to watch West Bromwich Albion each other Saturday. I become the best Asian within the crowd. “Being black or Asian, you have to paintings more robust to impress. I assume the Asian youngster who wants to be a footballer must have that force, resilience, and intellectual longevity. “I had human beings call me names once I played, especially London boys. But I just laughed and shook their hand after the sport. A Sikh is never sensitive to adversity. To beat racism, one has to disregard it, and I did because I commonplace it. However, I became bigger than it.” Attending trials wherever he ought to, visiting alone through the bus to golf equipment as a 13-yr-antique, has become the norm for Verdi.
“All the other youngsters had their mother and father with them. I had no one with me, and after the trials, not anything become said. I just were given lower back at the bus and again domestic,” recalled Verdi. “I signed for Wolves at 14, then went to Ipswich wherein Sir Bobby Robson signed me, and I performed a few video games inside the reserves at 16. So I felt I had some potential to make it. “I feel I turned into in advance of the sport in which English soccer was long balls. “I made £5 plus change each Friday, in a small brown packet. It turned into a lovely day of the week! It wasn’t cash I played for; however, my dream to be a footballer. Whatever else got here with it was a bonus. “The problem was that the coaching at the young people stage of developing and nurturing players with uncooked ability changed into non-existent. If you had a bad sport, you have been dropped, however in no way in training changed into there helping to improve on what a participant lacked in that recreation.” When Verdi changed into no longer provided a settlement at Ipswich, a pal offered a new possibility to play for Vancouver Spartans in Canada. “I needed to get out of England and, although I failed to know lots approximately Canada, with one bag and my boots, I became at Heathrow airport that evening to fly accessible,” he said.