Megally Launches Pro Career in Sweden
Aug. 21, 2017
CHICAGO – Simon Megally’s pro soccer career is off to a promising start in the Land of the Midnight Sun.
He started in his first three matches at center midfield for Nybro IF, never came off the field and picked up his first assist in the second match.
Despite joining the Swedish team halfway through the season, Megally has hit the ground running with his high-energy style of play so familiar to Blue Demon fans.
"Nybro expects me is to come in and help the team straight away,” said Megally, an All-BIG EAST First Team selection last fall who was also NSCAA All-Region and NSCAA Scholar All-America. “In this unique situation being a professional now, my goal is to showcase myself and my talents so that I can ultimately move upward.
“I believe I have done enough to stand out so far. Each game my performance has increased as I get used to my teammates and a whole different environment here. I think my game has improved in confidence since my senior year at DePaul.”
Local soccer observers in this town of 12,800 are impressed with Megally.
“We have a midfielder with good positional play who is both a willing and powerful player,” said Patrik Berg of the Nybro IF Sports Group. “He is someone who can do the job but at the same time be well-groomed with the ball and can start attacks with precise balls.”
Megally left for Copenhagen, Denmark on July 1 with Bridges FC, a team of pro prospects. Bridges FC competed against the tops teams in Denmark and Sweden with pro scouts evaluating the players’ performances.
Megally was among the first invited for a trial with a top Division 1 team in Sweden. When that didn’t work out, Megally’s agent said a Division 2 team in Sweden wanted to sign him without a trial.
“I thought it'd be best to go with this opportunity with Nybro IF, Megally said. “I needed to get my foot in the ‘professional’ door and add some credit to my name. I think this is a great place for me to do that.
“On the Bridges trip when I was on the field with these teams who have played in the Europa League, you can adapt the rate of play. I always thought one of my strengths was adapting to situations, and I have shown this on the trip and so far at Nybro. I believe my speed of play has increased.”
The recent DePaul graduate said the biggest difference between pro and college soccer is the concentration level and having to be switched on and in tune with the game 100 percent of the time. He said there are times in college you can get away with not being in a play here or there and the other team won't punish you. That's not the case in the pros---they will punish you.
Life in a small town in southern Sweden is quite different than the hustle and bustle of Lincoln Park. Megally lives in a guest cabin in the woods owned by a Nybro IF board member. Megally has gone fishing for the first time in his life and is learning to drive stick-shift.
“I am enjoying myself in Sweden,” Megally said. “It took a bit getting used to because it is hectic with a lot of moving pieces, but so far so good. Practice is at 5:30 a.m. every day. Along with a couple other American players, we get in some extra work with drills on the field or a workout in the gym.
“The middle of my days are usually filled with some Netflix or my continuous studying for the MCAT because nothing in soccer is ever a guarantee. At some point, I won't be able to play anymore so I need a back-up plan. On our off days, we head to Kalmar (about 20 minutes away) to hang in the city and grab lunch.
“I like living in Nybro. It has the necessities you need, and the people are very friendly and welcoming---especially people at the Nybro IF club and the players. I like the difference from Chicago. Instead of living in the city, I’m in a cabin. It is nice to see the stars at night. This is an experience within a job that you aren't going to get anywhere else.”
The transition to a new culture was eased by embracing the local cuisine.
“I really enjoy the Swedish food,” Megally said. “They love their kebabs. Some of the more traditional local food I've had is Raggmunk, which is like a potato pancake, and Kroppkakor, which are potato dumplings filled with meat served with lingonberry jam.”
Every so often, Megally does think about life back home.
“There are definitely times where I get homesick, more so at the beginning,” he said. “I am very close with my family, and being at DePaul was a blessing because my family was only a short drive away and could be at every game. I definitely miss that. The first week or so I was very homesick, which is expected, and I deal with it in a couple of ways.
“First, I try to keep busy so my mind doesn't wander. I only think about soccer when I am on the field so nothing outside will affect me and that's how I have always been. Second, I just remind myself of why I am here and how this will be good for me as a player and as a person. After the first week or so, once I really got acclimated and comfortable, the homesick feelings began to fade away. I miss my family the most, including my dog Lulu, and my friends.”
Everything Megally is doing on the other side of the world points to his end game.
“Yes my ultimate goal is to make it to the MLS one day or a league of that caliber,” Megally said. “I am hoping my performances here will enable me to jump forward into a higher division either overseas or in the U.S. I would love to make it to the MLS, and I hope and believe it can happen.”
It is a hope and belief fueled by a standout career in Lincoln Park.
“I learned at DePaul there is no easy way out, and the answer to all the problems you encounter is hard work,” Megally said. “The freshmen I came in with (Kevin Beyer, Erik Rodriguez, Quentin Low) knew that. We put in a tremendous amount of work and discipline to push DePaul in a direction we believed it needed to go.
“DePaul also taught me to always believe in yourself and have confidence. If you don't believe in yourself on the field, no one else will. If you go on a trial and it doesn't work out, don't let that faze you. Keep working and move on to the next thing. It is easy to put your head down and quit.
“There is a lot that goes into a pro team signing you. There has to be a fit with that system.
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