Gray: The full Fulham experience
Hello Fire fans! Happy New Year! I hope everyone enjoyed the holidays. I can't complain about my offseason. It's been great. I've spent most of the time back home in California catching up with friends and family and enjoying the warm weather. I'm currently writing to you from London. It's a very beautiful city, but it's also very cold.
It's about four o'clock in the afternoon now and I'm only here a few more days. I came to London to train with the Premiership team Fulham FC for one week. For those of you that heard I was training with a different team, those were just rumors. I've only been with Fulham.
This whole experience has been pretty unbelievable. Growing up on the West Coast, I could only dream of one day getting the chance to come to Europe to play with a Premiership team. And here I am now, playing and training day-in and day-out alongside some of my favorite players and true icons such as Andrew Cole and Edwin Van der Sar. It's actually a very weird feeling, but very rewarding as well. These guys are great and they accepted me right away. It's also great to see Carlos Bocanegra and Brian McBride doing so well here. They've taken me out to see the town a few times, and it's been wonderful exploring London.
Soccer is everything here. People breathe it, love it and live for it. The fans are absolutely nuts. They understand the game so well. They'll sing non-stop during games - just like our Section 8 fans - and you can hear the applauses after a player makes a great move, which is nice because it shows how much they appreciate a player's skills. The stadium has a very intimate feel to it. The stands seem to come all the way down to the field, and the players are so much closer to their fans, which is what makes it so special.
Fulham's training techniques are not too different from what we have in Chicago, and in terms of the daily grind, it's pretty standard: wake up, train for a couple of hours, go home. The coaches keep the players hungry for more training, and even though the guys like to joke around a lot, the setting is always professional. It's reassuring to know that MLS and all our teams have a very similar structure, despite our short history. And of course, things will only get better, especially with the construction of soccer-specific stadiums in the States. I can't wait until Bridgeview!
Time has flown by so quickly. It really has been a privilege to be here. I hope I can come back someday, but for the moment, I'm anxious to get home and prepare for our new season. There's so many new guys on our team I've yet to meet. It's going to be an exciting season and I hope to see (and hear) all of you at Soldier Field come April 2.
See you soon!