My name is Stafford Chipungu Jr and I am a current player for FSV Erlangen Bruck.
I was 8 years old when I started playing football (soccer). My father and late uncle Jomo, used to watch soccer all the time on the television. My uncle Jomo used to play with me in my backyard every day and he was also the first person I saw do a ‘rainbow’. I remember my father saying, “Shoot hard and low,” and “Shoot like a man,” which meant he really wanted me to take advantage of the powerful shot I had.
After growing up with football within my family, I was only destined to follow the sport as well.
When I was 15 years old, I realized how talented I was. I went to Brazil with my ODP team and got compliments from Brazilian coaches and players after each game. From then on, something in me told me I had what it took to be a professional.
After my youth years, I went on to play college for Rutgers University. I did not want to quit the game, but I did want to quit the team. I felt like I was being used out of position which led me towards quitting and going to Brazil to play. Despite other colleges showing interest, my decision was made.
At 19, I was placed on my first pro team in Pau Grande, Rio de Janiero. Football in Brazil seemed corrupt to me. The offices were always disorganized, excuses were always made when it came to money, and everything just seemed off. I ended up going to California to play for a u23 and a u20 team and going back to school for a few years.
In 2012, I had a connection that got me a couple of trials in Germany. While trying to stay match fit by playing in a men’s league, I ended up rupturing my Achilles and missing my trial. I was frustrated, but when I asked the doctor if I will be able to play again, he smiled and said, “You’ll be back.”
Some people thought it was a sign for me to quit, but for me, knowing I could play again motivated me to be back and better.
I heard about Joe Funicello and SoccerViza through a friend. I was highly interested because I wanted to make another breakthrough into the professional game, but my mother was ill, and she needed me to care for her. I took about a year and a half off football and once my mother got better, Joe and SoccerViza helped me get to Sweden. I attended multiple combines and benefited from the experience. They played a massive role in my career and since placing me in Sweden, I performed well, and my profile has only risen.
Is Being Pro What You Imagined?
For me, being a professional football player is exactly how I imagined it but honestly it depends on what people consider professional. There are players on teams that are "technically" professional but are treated and paid like amateurs (OR NOT AT ALL). Then, there are players on teams that are considered semi-professional and their quality of life is better than players with much better CVs (on paper). It all depends on which club you're playing for and which country you're living in. I've been to the poorest countries to play and also some of the richest. It's all relative. Wherever there are clubs that are paying livable wages, there will be high quality players vying for those positions and each of their lives is different.
Looking back at it now ....
I would have never wasted time going to college in the United States. I left Rutgers and immediately played my way into an academy in Brazil. I got better in 3 months in Brazil than I had in 3 years in America.
Believe me when I say this: Have as much video as humanely possible of you playing, training, everything. Catalog all your articles, interviews, anything that increases your profile. Even if you have an agent, YOU are your biggest fan and agent. You are the person in control on your career.
All in all, Soccer has always been my one true love. I always train. I think I've gotten far because of my mentality. I never give up because quitting is not an option and I play every game like it’s my last. It's one thing to quit to do nothing, but I quit a team to follow my dream and work harder than anyone.