Ex-pat Ryan Shawcross will ‘always be a Stoke fan’ as he follows news from Miami

Ex-pat Ryan Shawcross will ‘always be a Stoke fan’ as he follows news from Miami

Ryan Shawcross is readjusting to life as an ex-pat Stoke City fan while he kicks off the next chapter of his career in Florida.

The club legend ended a near 14-year stay in the Potteries when he flew out to join Inter Miami in the spring. He has made seven appearances so far – in his number 17 shirt – as Phil Neville’s new side takes time to gel in MLS.

At the same time, he has been checking in with how life is going on back home under Michael O’Neill – with a bit of extra help from his best mate Rory Delap.

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“It’s a strange situation,” he said in an interview with Matt Sandoz for Radio Stoke.

“I’ve always been involved at Stoke, so I’ve found myself always looking at the news to see what’s going on. I’ve never been in a place where I’ve needed to do that before.

“Obviously, the lads are back for pre-season, and I speak to Rory a lot. I still feel part of it. I’ll always be a Stoke fan and always want to be part of what they’re doing.

“I find it difficult not to look and see what they’re doing. I watched the last couple of games (from the US), see how the signings come in and try to keep on top of it.

“I’m a Stoke fan, so I try to keep on top of what’s going on. Being good friends with Rory helps to get inside information, and I try to keep up to date.”

Will Shawcross ever be Stoke manager? Have your say in the comments section

Shawcross is 33 now and has spent the bulk of his playing career with Stoke, joining as a 19-year-old from Manchester United and playing more Premier League minutes than any other player in the country for a decade.

So it has been a big leap across the Atlantic.

He said: “It’s been a strange journey that I’ve not done since I was a kid when I went to Antwerp. Obviously I’ve got a wife and three kids now, so there’s a lot of change for everyone. Overall I think we’ve loved it.

“There are so many pluses to it, the weather, the Covid situation being so relaxed and obviously playing a bit of football, which has helped!

“Putting all that together, it’s been a great experience so far, and when we look back in a couple of years, I’m sure we’ll consider it a big success.”

He added: “The main factor (in making the switch) was that I wasn’t playing, and I wanted to play. I would have been at the end of my contract in the summer, and I wanted a bit of clarity about where I was at. It wasn’t a given, which was fair enough because of my injury situation.

“Once that happened, I had to look around because I felt in good nick, in good shape, and I wanted to continue. Inter Miami came up, I spoke to Phil Neville, and I was sold on it.

“It was then a case of speaking to the manager, asking if I was in his plans between then and the end of the season. It was pretty clear I wasn’t going to be, and then Tony Scholes and the owners were brilliant, making sure everything was sorted. They made the passage easier for me to come over.

“It was a bit of a whirlwind couple of weeks, but we’re delighted we’re out here now.”

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As a Premier League veteran, he has been impressed with the set-up in the US.

“It’s a great league,” he said. “There are so many advantages – and the only disadvantage is the size of the country. There’s so much travel. They are doing everything so well. Every stadium I’ve been to is near enough new and to a really good standard.

“The players are improving year on year. There are better staff coming in, better coaches.

“It’s a process, and it’s going to take time, but the eventual aim is to compete with Europe. If they keep adding clubs like Inter Miami… although we haven’t had the greatest start to the season. I think everyone needs to understand that when you put a team together, it takes time to knit and gel and get a winning formula.

“We’re a great advert in how to put a club together. Our stadium is brilliant, training facilities are amazing, and we’ve obviously got the backing of David Beckham. The PR going into it is amazing.

“The MLS is going places. It’s just a matter of time before it takes off.”

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