Living the American dream: Players who own teams Stateside

When a footballers’ career eventually comes to an end they’re spoilt for choice of what they could do next.

Some will transition into punditry, others try their hand at management.

While some former players such as the Class of 92 decided to invest their time and money more locally, a select few have opted to head Stateside.

With the MLS attracting more marque names year by year, they’re one of world footballs most blossoming markets.

Looking to join America’s soccer revolution, who are the superstars that have decided to start their very own American franchise:

1. David Beckham – Inter Miami

Signing for LA Galaxy back in 2007, David Beckham’s arrival in the MLS was seen as the flame that lit the US soccer revolution.

11 years on and the former England captain is not done with Major League Soccer yet.

The most notable owner on this list, Beckham was offered the chance to own an MLS expansion side upon his arrival in Los Angeles.

After finally hanging up his boots with PSG, in 2014 the 43-year-old exercised his $25million option and Internacional de Futbol Miami was born.

Needless to say, some of footballs biggest names have been linked with a move to America’s latest franchise.

However, there have been some issues behind the scenes that have backdated their proposed start in 2017.

Suffering a number of setbacks regarding planning permission for their new stadium, they are still waiting to finalise a deal in downtown Miami.

Beckham is now hoping that Inter Miami will be installed into the MLS at the start of the 2020 campaign.

While it hasn’t been plain sailing for the 115-cap England international, Miami’s latest franchise have unveiled the sides new logo.

2. Paolo Maldini – Miami FC

While many will be excused for believing that Beckham is the first man to bring football to Miami, they would in fact be wrong.

Back in 2015, one of Beckham’s former teammates at AC Milan, Paolo Maldini, was announced as the new owner of North American Soccer League (NASL) side Miami FC.

Along with working as the co-owner alongside business partner Riccardo Silva, Maldini has also been announced as the development director at the San Siro.

“Miami has been my second home for 15 years, so I look forward to spending more and more time here as co-owner of Miami FC, giving my enthusiastic contribution for its success”

After spending over two decades with Rossoneri, Maldini had some powerful connections who were willing to help Miami’s first franchise.

Italian compatriot Alessandro Nesta took charge at the Riccardo Silva Stadium for just over two campaigns and even led Miami to victory in both the Spring and Fall season of the NASL last year.

However, Maldini’s side are somewhat stuck in limbo following the cancellation of the NASL league for the 2018 season.

The franchise have recently created Miami FC 2 and currently compete in the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL).

Transferring almost their entire roster from the NASL side, Maldini hopes that Miami FC will return to action sooner rather than later.

Didier Drogba

LONDON, ENGLAND – MAY 24: Didier Drogba of Chelsea poses for photographs after the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Sunderland at Stamford Bridge on May 24, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

3. Didier Drogba – Phoenix Rising

While English football may be accustomed to seeing the odd player/manager, Didier Drogba took it one step further in April 2017.

Along with being named as the marquee signing for USL side Phoenix Rising, he was also unveiled as a part owner of the Arizona based franchise.

The 106-cap Ivory Coast international also secured his position as the first player/owner in history.

Much like Maldini had at Miami, Drogba was not short of contacts who were willing to come and play both under and alongside the former Chelsea striker.

In February 2017, Phoenix announced the arrival of former England international Shaun Wright-Phillips on a season-long deal.

As for the five-time Premier League winners personal record for PRFC, Drogba netted 13 goals and grabbed four assists in his 21 appearances.

With his contract as a player coming to an end, the 40-year-old played his last game for Phoenix in their 1-0 loss to Portland Timbers reserves over the weekend.

However, Chelsea’s second-leading goalscorer did manage to lead Phoenix to a third-place finish in the Western Conference and secured their playoff position.

Drogba hopes that PRFC will secure a spot in the MLS within the next two years.

4. Demba Ba, Eden Hazard, Yohan Cabaye and Moussa Sow – San Diego 1904

While all four players are still plying their trade across the globe, they all appear to be looking to the future.

In June 2017 it was announced that a four-player consortium led by Demba Ba had created San Diego’s first footballing franchise.

However, much like the others on this list, Ba and his colleagues have not been without the odd bump in the road.

It was originally hoped that San Diego would be starting the 2018 season in the North American Soccer League.

Sadly for their superstar owners, the NASL was canceled and due to time restraints their appeal to join the USL was rejected.

After being without a league for some time, 1904 has now been announced as the first side to join a proposed Division III league starting next season.

Ba, who now plays his football for Chinese Super League side Shanghai Shenhua, currently owns 35% of San Diego.

With the combined stakes of Eden Hazard, Moussa Sow and Yohan Cabaye means their consortium is the majority owner.

Also see:

Maurizio Sarri adamant Eden Hazard will remain at Chelsea beyond 2020

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