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Program Director Adam Norse discusses his history, Rovers, England — and penalty kicks

In his various roles for DUSC, Adam has had an enormous and incredibly positive impact on the club. In this brief interview, he talks about growing up in Blackburn, coming to the US and to DUSC, and what it’s like to watch England in the World Cup this summer. He also gives us some insight into what England are doing differently this time around, and how learning from them may benefit the US.

You are from Blackburn, in northern England. What are your earliest memories of football?

Blackburn is an industrial mill town (population 100,000). Our team, Blackburn Rovers, was one of 23 founder clubs of the English league in 1878. Football is the heartbeat of the town. When the team is doing well, everybody is in an upbeat mood! My earliest memories were going to watch Rovers with my uncle at age 7 on a Saturday afternoon.  

Were Rovers your team, or did you support another team?

Confession time: growing up Rovers were in the 2nd division, so I supported them as my local team, but I also supported Manchester United, the big city club 30 miles down the road. In the early 1990s a local businessman invested millions of pounds into the team and within 5 years we were the number 1 team in England. A fairy tale of a story! I had a big decision to make as a young boy. My heart was always with Rovers.  We are still the only town to win the Premier League title (1995). Leicester City winning the league in 2016 doesn't come close to our story! 

Can you tell us something about your playing history?

I grew up playing football from a young age at school with a dream of becoming a professional. At 14, I was playing with Burnley FC but unfortunately didn't make the grade. I had other trials over the next few years, but was never offered an apprenticeship. 

Can you tell us something about your coaching history?

In 2001, an organization came to my university in England recruiting potential coaches to spend the summer in America coaching football. Traveling across the USA, coaching soccer and getting paid for it didn't take much thinking about! From there my passion for coaching was born. Since then I have looked to grow and develop as a coach as much as I possibly can, learning from other coaches all the time.

What brought you to the States?

During the global recession, circa 2010, I was working within corporate staffing in the UK. Since no companies were hiring staff, I was offered the chance to come back coaching in the USA for 6 months. During that time I met my wife and have been here in New York ever since.

What do you like best about the States?

I love the fact that it is such a melting pot of cultures and different people. 

What brought you to DUSC?

After meeting Gustavo Palomino and hearing about how DUSC were all about developing players on and off the field,  I knew that I wanted to be a part of the club. I was grateful that Gustavo gave me an opportunity to start coaching his U13 boys team.

What do you like best about DUSC?

I like the fact that we are a community soccer club. Regardless of skill level or ability to pay, there is a home for every player and family. In a big city like New York, where community can be hard to find, this is special. 

England last reached the semis of the World Cup in 1990. What do you remember about that team?

I remember staying up past my bedtime to see David Platt score in extra time to win against Belgium, sending England into the quarterfinals. We ended up losing to West Germany in the semifinals on penalties. The team had flair and were exciting to watch. The whole country was behind the team. Unfortunately, I thought this is how England always played! 

What do you think is making this England team so successful?  Southgate’s willingness to “go young”? Harry Kane’s awesomeness?

I think England have found their identity again after trying to imitate other countries' styles of play for too long.  English players are direct and hard-working, that's in our DNA and our culture. It doesn't mean we can't be skillful or play good football. The main thing is that we play as a team instead of 11 individuals.  No matter how you slice it, we aren't Spain and we aren't Brazil. Gareth Southgate has made the players proud to play for England once again. I think the English people are able to relate to this generation of players much more than over the past 28 years. I think the USMNT can learn a lot from the way England have tuned into their strengths and their true, unique identity. 

What has it been like watching this World Cup?

It's been a lot of fun! I've watched most games on the DUSC summer camp so we have had nearly every country represented. Watching the Colombia game got a little uncomfortable towards the end I must admit! It would have been good to have the USA, Italy and Ireland in the tournament though. 

Do you think England have gotten past their wretched history of penalty shoot-outs? ;-)

I loved that Gareth Southgate embraced the penalty shoot-out as a skill, instead of us just putting it down to luck. He has told his players to "own the process", from the walk from the center circle to the kick itself. I will wait to answer the rest of this question until after the final on Sunday...!