The journey of a professional soccer player is not always straightforward to navigate. Take the path followed by former San Jose Earthquakes standout midfielder Simon Dawkins.
After toiling away for years in the Tottenham Hotspur academy and reserve side, Dawkins finally made his debut on loan with Leyton Orient in 2008. Injuries derailed his promising career, and in need of a fresh start, Spurs loaned him to the Earthquakes at the start of the 2011 MLS season.
Dawkins immediately made an impression in San Jose, and after another injury delay, established himself in the Quakes line-up as part of the club's Supporters' Shield sinning season of 2012. He returned to Spurs that offseason, after spurning an offer to stay with the Earthquakes, with hopes of accelerating his career in England.
A loan deal to Aston Villa late in the 2012-13 EPL season gave Dawkins his first taste of Premier League football, but his opportunities at the Birmingham club evaporated after only four appearances. By the fall of 2013, Dawkins was again sent out on loan, to second division side Derby County, still trying to find his place.
And so it was at the East Midlands side that Dawkins fit in. Initially on an emergency loan from Tottenham, the midfielder quickly gained the trust of head coach Steven McClaren and featured regularly in the Derby staring eleven. In 13 appearances, Dawkins has scored 3 goals for Derby and been a constant threat from the left midfielder position.
His reward? Just days into the January transfer window, Tottenham transferred the 26-year old to Derby for a reported £500,000, and McClaren inked Dawkins to a 2-and-a-half year permanent deal. One has to imagine that the infectious smile Dawkins once flashed around Buck Shaw Stadium was that much wider.
Dawkins was certainly a fan favorite when with the Earthquakes, and he has archived the same status at Derby County since arriving there last fall. For the affable Englishman, with roots in Jamaican soccer, the journey continues. Perseverance and a love of the game having helped him reach a happy home in Derby.