The journey of a professional soccer player, and the push for meaning, purpose, and contentment
The 13 Best Football Books Ever Written, according to the UK's The Ball is Square:
#7) When the Dream Became Reality. Author Bobby Warshaw splashes iced water in the faces of those stuck thinking that lifting a cup is what football is about. This deeply humane book sheds light on the often unseen difficulties players go through on their path of becoming, and staying, professional footballers. Identity, integrity, purpose, and meaning: all are explored through the story of a young footballer turning professional in America.
“In this candid memoir, former professional soccer midfielder Warshaw describes his journey from being an insecure soccer-playing boy from Mechanicsburg, Pa., to realizing his dream of playing the sport professionally. After graduating from high school, Warshaw made the U.S. Men’s Youth National Soccer Team in 2005, earned All-American honors, and won a scholarship to attend Stanford University. Warshaw became the captain of the well-respected Stanford team, though he continued to doubt his abilities. He was the university’s lone selection to the MLS Combine, and was a first-round draft pick for FC Dallas. His three years at FC Dallas were complicated by feuds with the coach and the frustration of playing a backup role against teams with star-studded lineups such as David Beckham’s L.A. Galaxy. Not wanting to ride the bench in Dallas, Warshaw moved abroad to play in Swedish and Norwegian leagues, but some of the old feelings of self-doubt crept in. He eventually returned to Pennsylvania and played for the local Harrisburg City Islanders. Warshaw, now an analyst at MSLsoccer.com, earnestly probes the psychological and physical effort it takes to become an elite athlete.”
In print, paperback and hardcover:
A young soccer player dreamed of playing professionally. Or, better said, he dreamed of doing something great. He wanted to be someone or get somewhere—for his life to mean something—and soccer became his path. When he heard his name called in the 1st Round of the MLS SuperDraft, he expected his life to change forever. What he found, instead, was much of the same: the same fears, insecurities, and internal conflicts, except now with higher stakes.
When the Dream Became Reality is the story of a professional athlete’s path and evolution, as a person and athlete, from childhood through six professional seasons. In this heartfelt memoir, Bobby Warshaw recounts the moments we rarely hear so honestly from athletes, including disagreements with coaches, personal mistrust of his own ability, doubt about his sexuality, and the aftermath of loss and failure.
Warshaw experienced incomparable highs—game-winning goals; championship games; wearing the captain’s armband—but he rarely felt like he was living the dream that everyone suggested. Beyond the usual self-doubt, he struggled to come to terms with the paradox at the root of the profession: the intersection of a ruthless business with a children’s game. To achieve his goals, Warshaw discovered at a young age he would have to live with two conflicting parts of his life, the athlete and the human. The former Stanford University captain opens up about his efforts to maximize his ability as an elite player and a compassionate person despite their often-clashing demands; the constant frustration that he never performed either as well as he would have wanted; and the subsequent struggle to like himself, as either an athlete or a person, along the way.
When the Dream Became Reality is not the story of the glitz and glamour of a famous superstar, but rather the everyday emotions and decisions of an average pro pushing to be remembered. Warshaw writes the story that pulls back the curtain on the life and emotions of America’s professional athletes. Sometimes there is more than giant contracts and big trophies on the line.
It’s a common thought to chase our dreams. Do we ever stop to think what happens when we get there? When the dream no longer remains a dream, but becomes reality.
Press on When the Dream Became Reality:
"Soccer player's memoir is about falling short of goals. That's why it's worth reading... Warshaw's 260-page work is a terrific read." - Steven Goff, The Washington Post
"It’s not necessarily just for the love of soccer, but for the connections on a personal level... it carries lessons for those who are passionate in whatever chosen field." - Nicholas Mendola, NBC Sports
“The journey itself is interesting, but the book is as much about the mental side of life as the physical aspects of soccer. Warshaw provides insight into how professional athletes think and feel, in ways that will resonate with anyone who's interested in succeeding.” - Paul Carr, ESPN
The 13 Best Football Books Ever Written by The Ball is Square
The 5 soccer books you should read this summer by The Bent Musket
An interview with Bobby Warshaw, author of ‘When the Dream Became Reality’ by The Brotherly Game
Podcast discussions about the book