Sporting journeys can take in all kinds of interesting and exotic places. Adie Creamer will certainly testify to this.
Creamer’s parents hail from Monaghan and Cavan, but a couple of weeks ago Gary White contacted the Watford FC academy goalkeeping coach.
“It has been a busy spell,” Creamer told The Irish Post on Monday. “Guam’s Head Coach Gary White asked me out of the blue to act as goalkeeping coach for their matches with Hong Kong and Singapore.
“Initially it was just for those games, but I’ve since been asked to stay involved for the upcoming World Cup qualifying campaign which is brilliant. It was an amazing experience.
“It is one I want to build on because it was the highlight of my career so far. The set up Gary White has now is so professional; it was very intense and exciting. Being totally honest the set up was as good as anything I’ve seen.”
Progress is being made by Guam. In March 2005 Guam leaked a staggering 21 goals when losing to North Korea, but since then the improvement has been steady. White’s sterling work ensures Guam are beginning to garner results and respect. It hasn’t been an easy process.
“Guam are climbing up the rankings and it is down to the way Gary White operates,” Creamer says. “There is a real positive spirit in the camp.
“The draw for round two of the World Cup qualifiers takes place next week. We are in pot 5, but in pot 1 you’ve the likes of Japan, Australia, and Iran. We will get one of them. So it is a huge opportunity.”
Guam’s current squad includes former St Patrick’s Athletic fans favourite Ryan Guy – one of a number of full-time professionals involved.
“Ryan Guy is playing for Guam-he has played in the MLS so has Brandon McDonald, who played with David Beckham when he was at LA Galaxy.
“In a way what Gary White has done is similar to the Republic of Ireland’s approach back in the 1980s. He started recruiting players from elsewhere that qualified to play for Guam.
“His professionalism and depth of knowledge is great. As a coach he is demanding and very thorough, but that is what you want.
“He brought the British & Virgin Islands up the rankings as a young coach and he did the same with the Bahamas.
“Guam have gone from being ranked 197 to being in and around 160 – that is a staggering level of progress.
“The belief has been transformed within the squad. There was a time when it was simply a case of playing to keep the score down.
“That definitely isn’t the case anymore. For the matches against Hong Kong and Singapore there was a genuine belief that the team could win.”
Creamer, who works at Stanmore College, remembers being on coaching courses alongside marquee names in the game.
“I stayed in touch with Gary White through social media. When we did our coaching badges other people like Roy Keane, Mark Kinsella, Jeff Kenna, Martin Keown, Steve Claridge, and Gareth Southgate were there.
“I stayed in touch with a few of them for a while, but Gary was probably the one I stayed in touch with the most so it was a real privilege to be involved with Guam.”
Before his own playing career was cut short due to injury Creamer played minor football for London, while also winning county titles in Tir Chonaill Gaels' colours.
“I played minor for London and it was great for me to win a few London and an All Britain medal with Tir Chonaill Gaels.
“That was always important in our family and my own son now plays football for St Kiernan’s and hurling for Kilburn Gaels. He also plays soccer with Watford too so that is nice.”
England under 21 international Jonathan Bond and Brentford’s Jack Bonham are two youngsters who have worked under Creamer in the Watford Academy.
“I’ve been lucky enough that during my time with Watford that I’ve coached the first team ‘keepers occasionally. It was brilliant to work with Ben Foster, Manuel Almunia, and Jonathan Bond.
“Jonathan Bond is a goalkeeper of immense potential. I’ve worked a lot with him throughout the years and he can have a very good career. He is good enough to play for the first team.”
Creamer will continue his own hectic schedule before the next international trip in June when his friend Ronan McManus of BibleCode Sundays is expected to deliver a song for the World Cup qualification campaign.
“I’m really looking forward to being involved with Guam again. There is a great mentality in the team at the moment and I’m sure the song will help that.
“Before every game and training session the team do a chant called the inifresi which has increased the sense of identity around the team.”