Matthew Ricci played for European Soccer Institute and is currently a freshman at Midland University in Freemont NE. Within his first season he has worked his way up to the starting goalie position for MU’s team and was named Honorable Mention on one of the 2019 Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) Men's Soccer All-Conference teams.
Ricci’s work ethic and talent were cultivated at ESI. Ricci believes that ESI training is where good players are built, and he appreciated that each session at the Institute provided an opportunity to get better.
“Stéphane and David made me the player I am today,” Ricci said. “Every single training session I improved.”
Not only does ESI focus on technical player development, the Institute also helped create a network of connections for Ricci. Through referrals from Stéphane and ESI, Ricci was able to link up with college coaches to create opportunities that he otherwise couldn’t have.
More than Soccer
In addition to helping him fulfill his goal to play in college, ESI soccer provided lessons about respect, friendship, family and modeling for those that were coming up behind him.
“We had a really good bond on our team,” Ricci said. “I learned a lot about leadership, communication and how to be more social. I also remember having the feeling of all the younger ESI players looking up to the older players. I didn’t have that anywhere else.”
Advice for Staying on the Ball
Good soccer players mirror the best and Ricci enjoys watching idols like Leo Messi and Marc-André ter Stegen (goalkeeper for FC Barcelona). Studying some of the best in the world is another component to continuously striving to be a better player.
Best advice to current soccer players from Ricci is to connect with Stéphane and ESI and believe in the system. Those starting earlier with his coaching will succeed even further, Ricci said.
“Stéphane is a very experienced coach and if players are really serious about playing they should stay with ESI,” Ricci said. “Believe in Stéphane and what he can do. Because it really changed me and I believe it can change them too.”
Ricci has been playing soccer his whole life and plans on continuing through his college career. He is currently working on a minor in coaching and major in sports marketing and management and is considering making soccer part of his career.
“Soccer has been part of my whole life since I could walk and kick a ball,” Ricci said. “I want to stay with the sport I have loved.”