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Record player and BVB candidate! Why America’s Biggest Talent Quit at 18



Record player and BVB candidate!  Why America's Biggest Talent Quit at 18

Jeff Dewsnup lived the dream of many youngsters. Despite good performances, his life quickly turned into a personal nightmare.

For many youth players, it’s the moment they’ve been working toward all their lives: signing their first professional contract. From now on, their ideas should only go in one direction, steeply upwards.

For Jeff Dewsnup, that signature was a turning point in his life. But instead of a steep climb, the US talent quickly fell into a deep hole. The dramatic end was ultimately a career end at just 18 years old. “Now is the time to share my story with the world,” he said meaningfully in early 2023. What happened?

Dewsnup was a goalkeeper and his exceptional talent was evident early on. He was a U.S. junior international and signed professionally with Real Salt Lake at 16, a club record at that age. The MLS club initially used the youngster in the reserves in the second division, where he also quickly set a record.

At 17 years, two months and 18 days, he became the youngest goalkeeper to keep a clean sheet in league history. The hype surrounding the young goalkeeper grew from game to game.

Was Jeff Dewsnup even a topic at BVB?

“From a sporting point of view, I can’t complain about this first year,” Dewsnup said in retrospect SPORT bible. “It was a very good year for me. I played 25 games in the second team and was often on the bench in the RSL first team.”

His club had a clear plan to gradually become MLS number one, by which time the likes of Borussia Dortmund, PSV Eindhoven, Crystal Palace and FC Fulham were already signaling interest. But with the high expectations of outsiders, the pressure on the talent itself also increased.

“It was something I struggled with,” Dewsnup continued. “That year I was constantly struggling with the pressure that was on me. But it didn’t really affect my performances. I think I’m good at hiding my feelings. When I’ve played, I’ve got myself felt like a monster, but you only play 90 minutes and then you have to live with it for the rest of your life.”

His first year as a pro was eye-opening, he admitted. The pressure from outside, the way we interacted with one another and the general expectations quickly became too much for him personally. He suffered from anxiety and depression. “I was on medication for this, but in January 2022 it got so bad that I decided to really reconsider my life and figure out where I’m happiest.”

At just 18 years old: Jeff Dewsnup draws a line – and becomes a musician

Dewsnup withdrew completely – and made a far-reaching decision. Just under a year after signing the professional contract, football was over. It didn’t work anymore. “I was just a very isolated person. I had no motivation for life in general. I was just playing my guitar in my room. That was probably the low point,” he reflected.

He couldn’t even bring himself to personally tell the club officials about his decision. His agent and father enlightened Real Salt Lake and, like many hopeful football fans across the country, were “very surprised”. “It was a surprise for everyone to see me kind of disappear. A lot of people still can’t quite take it,” he said.

Ultimately, it was the music that got Dewsnup out of his mental hole. She “definitely” saved his life, as he admitted: “I felt completely hopeless about everything. The only outlet I seemed to have was to write about it. I guess when I don’t have music around me around, if I wasn’t able to express myself through music, I would have been in a much worse situation than I am now. That’s why I say music saved me.”

Turning his back on football was essential for the former goalkeeper jewel. Now he’s part of a band. A multi-state tour of the United States is planned for summer 2023. He escaped the pressure and expectations of the football business in time. “After I quit football there was criticism of me, but I think no matter what you choose, you should do everything for yourself. Your happiness is entirely up to you. We’re all different people and mental health everyone’s is just as important as everyone else’s,” he concluded with strong words.