OFF THE LEDGE AND INTO BIG TIME

The Football League Paper - - FINAL THIRD - By Sam El­liott

BE­FORE Christ­mas, Sean St Ledger took some time out to talk to The Foot­bal­lLeaguePaper about his prob­lems. He won’t mind ad­mit­ting it, but, in truth, he had lit­tle else to oc­cupy his day with.

Un­wanted and seem­ingly un­em­ploy­able, he couldn’t even get a trial to prove his worth. At times, he was strug­gling to get him­self out of bed.

Re­leased in May fol­low­ing Le­ices­ter City’s pro­mo­tion to the Pre­mier League, no clubs were keen. His agent wasn’t on the goslow, his CV stacked up but, for one rea­son or an­other, man­agers weren’t open to tak­ing a look.

Half a year went by and the for­mer Peter­bor­ough, Pre­ston and Mid­dles­brough cen­tre-back – who, don’t for­get, pulled on the Repub­lic of Ire­land jer­sey barely two years ear­lier and scored in the Euro­pean Cham­pi­onships – was still twid­dling his thumbs.

But they’re look­ing at him now. Or they will be later to­day; the man no Foot­ball League club wanted will be fol­low­ing Brazil­ian leg­end Kaka out of the tun­nel in front of nearly 65,000 peo­ple as Or­lan- do City make their bow in Amer­ica’s MLS.

Su­per­star Kaka has been ap­pointed cap­tain of Ma­jor League Soc­cer’s rook­ies and the 2007 world player of the year has al­ready drawn a sell-out crowd ahead of the opener against fel­low new boys New York City at the Cit­rus Bowl in Florida to­day.

Pa­tience has paid off and 30year-old St Ledger’s new head coach Adrian Heath – the for­mer Ever­ton and Stoke striker – said: “We’re de­lighted to have Sean here. He brings a lot of ex­peri- ence at club and in­ter­na­tional level. He’s a very ver­sa­tile de­fender who is com­fort­able play­ing in sev­eral po­si­tions along the back­line, which is a big bonus for the squad.”

It’s a far cry from last Novem­ber, when St Ledger told this pa­per: “What I’ve found most dif­fi­cult is the lone­li­ness. All I’ve known is foot­ball. That’s been my life, day-in, day-out.With­out it, there’s just a hole.You feel al­most suf­fo­cated by your own thoughts.”

Good things come to those who wait.

STAR: Kaka is Or­lando’s mar­quee sign­ing

NEW WORLD: Sean St Ledger pre­pares for his Or­lando de­but in the MLS

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