It would be quite easy for Matt Miazga to look back on his time at Chelsea with bitterness or regret.
Arriving at Stamford Bridge from the New York Red Bulls in January 2016, Miazga would go on to make just two senior appearances for the Blues across the next six-and-a-half seasons. Instead, he found more success across seven loan spells with five different clubs: Vitesse, Nantes, Reading, Anderlecht, and Alaves.
Still only 27 years old, Miazga returned to Major League Soccer last week with FC Cincinnati. Over the next few years, his transfer to Chelsea will likely be used as a cautionary tale about a player who went too big too early, but Miazga doesn't see it that way. In fact, he has no regrets at all about his time in London.
“It’s been quite a ride and I’m very thankful for it,” Miazga told reporters at his first press conference as an FC Cincinnati player.
“I’ve been able to live in so many different countries – play football, my passion, in so many different countries. And meet so many new people, so many lifelong friends that I’ll always have, teammates and people within the clubs that I played at, as well as immersing myself in new cultures, new places to live, and learning.
“When I look back, I wouldn’t change it for the world.”
Looking back on his decision-making process, Miazga remembers an in-form 20-year-old center-back, fresh from winning a Supporters' Shield title with RBNY. All of a sudden, none other than Jose Mourinho comes knocking with the sort of opportunity that seldom arrives twice.
“When I left Red Bull I was, what, 20 years of age? I had a good year that year, we were able to win a Supporters’ Shield and everything worked out,” Miazga reflected. “There was a lot of interest for me, and when Chelsea comes calling, when [Jose] Mourinho calls you and you're able to meet with him in London, you're not going to say no, really. It's a dream and it was a proud moment to be wanted by a massive club like that.”
Miazga - 22-time United States international - revealed that Chelsea received a number of permanent offers for his services over the years, but could never find an agreement that suited all parties.
Finally, the defender is back in the United States, joining Cincinnati at a time when they're casting off their 'wooden spoon' moniker to become genuine challengers for the Playoffs.
In Brandon Vazquez and Brenner, the Orange and Blue have the most fearsome strike partnership in MLS, scoring 22 goals combined so far this season. All that was left was to solidify the defense and Miazga certainly hopes to play his part in transforming Cincinnati into 'serial winners'.
“This is a nice place to be, and the club is growing. Honestly, we have everything here to be successful. This was definitely a place that can make sense for me and the stage of my career where I’m at. And it all came to fruition," said Miazga.
He added: "I’m hoping to use my experiences and my qualities playing for so long already to help Cincinnati and help this club reach its potential, and that’s to be a serial winner in MLS.”
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