By TOM ZEBOLD
USF Senior Writer
TAMPA – Samuel Hosseini has made some big moves during his soccer career.
USF’s senior midfielder, originally from Cologne, Germany, made his first long trek back in 2010, when he relocated to powerhouse Tyler Junior College in Texas before heading to Tampa before the start of last season.
“Back home you can’t really combine competition football with the university. If you go to the university, it’s only university because it’s really, really hard,” Hosseini said. “I’ve learned a lot and it’s made me a better person.”
Hosseini said he’s totally embraced big move after big move and the results speak for themselves. Hosseini helped Tyler Junior College win an NJCAA national championship in 2010 while playing alongside former USF teammates Kyle Nicholls, Brenton Griffiths and Dom Dwyer.
“Whenever they come from Tyler there are some special things in their blood. We call it Tyler blood,” head coach George Kiefer said. “Coach (Steve) Clements does a really good job of building habits with his players with a lot of discipline. You know they’re going to compete if they come from Tyler.”
Tyler Junior College went on to make the national semifinals in 2011 and Hosseini gained more experience on a much bigger stage last season when USF competed in its sixth consecutive NCAA tournament.
“I started playing when I was 4 and I’m 23 now. It’s my dream and I love it. To have the possibility to play and compete for a championship is great,” Hosseini said.
So is the life experience he’s has gained along the way. Hosseini made the decision to come to America just before the 2010 season and part of the journey involved picking up a new language as quickly as possible.
“Everybody told me the only thing I said was, “Yeah, buddy.” I was pretty quiet the first two months,” he said with a laugh.
Heading to a new country and learning a foreign language can easily overwhelm a person, but not Hosseini. He said he had two fellow Germans on the team, which helped a lot, and his other teammates came from other places as well. The whole group lived together in the dorms.
“If you’re forced to talk, you have to talk and you learn your way. It’s a great experience,” he said.
Hosseini now speaks English very well while his game has continued to be consistent since becoming a Bull. Hosseini collected three assists in 17 games last season while playing behind Nicholls. Now a team captain, Hosseini is tied for the team lead with two points heading into weekend action at the Gamecock Classic in Columbia, S.C. The Bulls face South Carolina 7 p.m. Friday and finish up with a test against Kentucky 11 a.m. Sunday.
“If I look into training or into the group, he’s a guy that’s providing the team with some really good leadership,” Kiefer said. “He’s stepping up this season and helping the group, and he’s definitely adding a good dimension to the team.”
Kiefer has noticed Hosseini’s comfort level with the team and his level of play have grown tremendously since last season. Hosseni contributes a lot of that to his lifestyle in Tampa. Like his time at Tyler, Hosseini gets to live with a majority of his teammates.
“We cook together and we’re always around each other. I really enjoy it and I embrace it because we are so tight,” he said.
Hosseini now has his mind set on a new destination – Philadelphia - and he wants the whole group to get there together for the College Cup in December.
“If you want to go all the way to the Final Four, you have to make sure you take care of every game step by step,” he said. “It’s good everyone is on the same page, especially our young boys. It just makes the chemistry so much better.”