Manchester to Oakland, California, that’s a mighty long way.
Indeed. Having been picked by the Oakland Raiders in the 2013 NFL draft, 24-year-old Menelik Watson is set to see his life change dramatically. Born and raised in Longsight, he was a talented sportsman at school, but his dream of playing for Manchester City was destroyed when he broke his ankle in 2001. He is now likely to become the most prominent Brit in American football, playing for one of the league’s most prestigious teams.
The envy of a million high school children, he must have worked hard for it.
We’re not going to disagree (he’s a big guy), but it’s worth noting he’s only been playing American football since 2011. After doctors advised him against pursuing a career in football here, he moved to the US. What he lacks in experience, he makes up for in physical prowess, though. Measuring 6ft 5in and weighing 22 stons, he caught the eye of the Raiders’ coaches with his agile footwork.
So is the beginning of a British invasion?
Not quite. The two other British players at the draft failed to be picked, but one of them, Lawrence Okoye, who threw the discus for Team GB at London 2012, was then snapped up as a free agent by the San Francisco 49ers. Watson will be joining Londoner Jack Crawford on the team, but there is only a light smattering of Brits across the league.