My name is Zac Lubin and I am a current player for Phoenix Rising FC in the USL Championship.
I must have been 3 or 4 when my older sister started playing soccer and anything she did, I did. I’d always be on the sidelines at her practice playing with a ball. I always had a lot of energy and I loved how much you could run and as a goalkeeper getting to dive around. I was also really inspired by Casey Keller with the US National Team. I then followed his career very closely and one of the best experiences of my life was getting to train with him at St. Martins University and then again with the Seattle Sounders.
Growing up, I think I was a bit naive, but I always wanted to be a pro so badly. I knew I would do everything in my power to become a pro, so I worked incredibly hard throughout the process, and grinded out a few really tough years after college before finally landing my first professional contract.
I don’t think I ever wanted to specifically quit, but I got to a few points to where I didn’t think I was going to make it and thought my career was never going to start.
3 years ago, I didn’t have a contract offer when an agent in Sweden said he had a contract for me. All he needed was for me to come in and meet and train with the team. Booked a one-way flight and my bags to stay. When I get there, no one is there to pick me up at the airport in Stockholm. It took me a couple hours to finally get in touch with the agent. I then had to bus myself to a town an hour away and get a hotel.
I finally spoke with the coach the next day and he had no idea I was even arriving. So a “guaranteed” contract turned into a trial that the coach would not even be at and them looking at other goalkeepers at the same time. After staying there for 2 weeks, I had used some contacts and got another trial. after that didn’t work, I continued to use contacts and set up a trail with Ljungskile SK, where I eventually signed. I had to travel on my own dime and spend almost all the money I had to keep getting trails and working towards a contract.
If you are overlooked like I felt I was, keep finding opportunities to get seen and exposed as much as you can and then you’ll be surprised by how quick your name will get around.
Being a professional soccer player is incredible because your living out your lifelong dream. I appreciate it every day, but at the same time, it does become work. When your welfare and ability to pay the bills is on the line, it brings a different dynamic to playing the game.
Joe Funicello and SoccerViza have done everything for my career. If it wasn’t for Joe getting me trials in Iceland and letting me stay at his apartment when he was just starting SoccerViza, I’m not sure if I would be a pro. Listening to his story was inspiring, and ever since, Joe has always helped me when seeking a new contract. I have also actually worked a combine as a GK coach.
Do I wish my road towards being a professional soccer player was easier? Kind of. But at the same time, the success feels better when you’ve grinded; I think you appreciate it more.