FROM sleepy Suffolk to the bright lights of one of the United States’ most exciting cities (writes Mark Williams).
From mediocre temperatures to the searing California heat – where sunbathing and surfing are regular pastimes.
From Ram Meadow to San Diego.
Remember Lee Underwood?
The former Bury Town hotshot may have left manager Richard Wilkins in limbo after walking out on the club in the summer, but Underwood insists there are no hard feelings between him and the club as he embarks on a new lease of life at professional soccer club San Diego Flash.
Speaking to the Bury Free Press this week, Underwood, who turns 25 next month, said: “I want to thank every single person involved at Bury Town – the fans included.
“I make sure I keep up with all of Bury’s results even though I live in America. I’m glad to see them doing so well again and if I ever return to England I would like to think I would be at Bury Town – if not as a player then as a fan.”
Underwood cited personal reasons when he left for life in the USA last summer – despite having signed a contract at Ram Meadow that should have seen him lead the attack for the Blues’ first ever tilt at the Ryman League Premier Division this season.
But almost a year on and the former Tiptree United striker is champing at the bit once again as he aspires to break into Diego’s starting line-up.
Flash ply their trade in the National Premier Soccer League and if Underwood is to progress quickly then he will need to impress manager and former England international Warren Barton.
“I consider myself very lucky to have been coached by Richard Wilkins and now England legend Warren Barton,” said Underwood.
“I’m enjoying life at San Diego and we’ve just started our first season in this league.
“I’m extremely happy to be playing football again after having nearly a year out. It’s something I never expected after moving out to America.
“The standard here is very good, which is again not what I expected. Everyone is comfortable on the ball so for me it’s like starting from scratch. I will have to prove myself as a natural goalscorer again to get in this team.”
While his former Bury team-mates prepare for a trip to Sutton tomorrow, Underwood is eyeing the glitz and glamour of Hollywood when his new side play their first away game of the season. Diego will be aiming to build on an opening day 3-1 victory against Hasental FC.
“We play Hollywood Hitmen this weekend which will be exciting,” added Underwood. “We will be travelling as far as San Francisco this season and some of the away journeys will take 10 hours but personally, I can’t wait.
“If you were to compare the two, I think Flash could definitely hold their own in the Ryman League, but Bury Town would probably have the edge.
“Diego have been together about a year now, so once we get the togetherness that is at Bury, I think it would be a close match.”
After signing for the Blues in December 2009, Underwood played a pivotal role in the club’s historic promotion. He netted an impressive 19 goals in five months – including a hat-trick in Bury’s famous 8-2 thrashing of Barton Rovers.