Former Memphis Soccer Player Makes Jump to Professional Ranks
Aug. 4, 2009
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Former Memphis men's soccer player Michael Coburn has seen his dream realized over the past seven months. The 6-3 180-pound stalwart at center back for the Tigers from 2004-08, returned home to his native Ireland following graduation from the U of M in December of 2008, only to realize his dream of playing competitive soccer for Dundalk FC, his hometown team. The Lilywhites are a member of the Premier Division of the League of Ireland, the highest level of competition in Ireland.
"The feeling of playing football for a living was and is now a dream of mine that came true," Coburn said. " I love waking up every morning knowing that I get to go to training and do something that I love everyday. Its a dream come true for me and has been a great experience since it happened."
Coburn, known affectionately to his Memphis coaches and teammates as "Scoby", has appeared in 12 matches for Coach Sean Connor's squad. The All-C-USA first team selection last season made his first appearance for Dundalk FC in the first round of the EA Sports Cup on April 13, in a match pitting the Lilywhites against the Reds of Shelbourne FC. Shelbourne won the game 3-0, but a story following the game had this to say about Coburn's first outing for the club.
"If you were looking for one positive from the game, then the display of Michael Coburn at the back would be it," the story said. "He showed some nice touches and was cool in possession. He also looked dangerous in the oppositions half from free kicks."
Following the match against Shelbourne, Coburn earned the starting nod in Dundalk's next five matches, playing all 90 minutes of games against Cork City, Derry City, Bohemians FC, Galway United and Drogheda United. Coburn also started a match against Cork City on June 19.
Coburn played for the youth division of Dundalk FC from age 14 to 18, before making the leap to the first team of Dundalk FC. Instead of playing professionally for Dundalk FC as an 18-year-old, Coburn's path took a detour to Southwest Tennessee, where he played for Coach Richie Grant's Tiger squad. In his first season at the University of Memphis in 2004, he appeared in 19 games, while starting 18. Coburn contributed two goals and three assists in his first season, helping the Tigers win the C-USA Tournament Championship.
Following a stellar freshman season, Coburn went on to earn All-C-USA Tournament honors in 2005. The Memphis defender missed the 2006 season due to injury, but recovered to earn All-C-USA second team honors in 2007 and All-C-USA first team accolades in 2008. Coburn came up big during the 2008 season, helping bring home one of the U of M's biggest upsets in the program's history. The Memphis defender took a Sean Goulding free kick in overtime against No. 15 SMU, and headed it in past the Mustang goalkeeper, to solidify Memphis' first victory over perennial C-USA soccer power, SMU.
After graduating from Memphis with a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies in December of 2008, Coburn returned home to Dundalk, where he was asked to participate in a trial game for the Lilywhites. Following the trial game, he was asked to join the club for their training camp. He did not earn a spot on the club's opening day roster on March 6, but waited his turn before being called to the first team in April of 2009.
"Its a very exciting club to play for, because they are one of the biggest clubs in the whole country," Coburn said. " We play in the top Division in Ireland and get to play against the best teams in the country every week. This was a major goal of mine coming back from Memphis, because I wanted to play at the highest level possible in Ireland and it also gave me a chance to adapt to the speed of play and the skill level that came with it. It has also been great to come back to this club, because my family and friends can come see me play every week unlike when I was in Memphis as it was so far away."
Dundalk FC's season will continue until the middle of November, when the champion of the FAI League of Ireland Premier Division will be crowned. The team will play a friendly match at the end of August against FC Barcelona, the UEFA Champion's League victor this season.