Chris Sharpe waxed nostalgic as midfielder Cole Bassett prepared to embark on one of the biggest moves of his young soccer career. The Rapids’ assistant coach sent the Homegrown a clip of his 15-year-old self in his first-ever training session with the Academy. While Bassett considered his younger self’s play very “raw” at the time, he admitted that he was much more well-rounded by the time he left for the Netherlands.
Today, he tells an even greater story of development.
“There’s certain things that I didn’t have in my game when I left,” he said. “I think I played at one pace too much, I don’t think I used enough intensity. Or maybe I just didn’t realize that I could be pushed to a different level…But it was definitely one of the things that was highlighted to me while I was [in Colorado] that I would need if I wanted to make the jump to Europe so I think I learned that a lot now.”
Bassett now returns to his childhood team with a fresh take on life, soccer and what growth means to him. The homecoming carries tales of his time in the Netherlands for the past 10 months, where the 21-year-old was loaned out to Feyenoord Rotterdam and later, Fortuna Sittard. He registered one goal and one assist in 19 appearances across both clubs.
When asked to describe his time in the Eredivisie in three words, he asked for one more to better encapsulate the experience.
“Different than I thought,” he said.
“As a young kid here, you always have an idea of what it is (playing in Europe). But you really don’t know and you can’t prepare yourself until you get over there and start playing because you really just don’t have a clue about what exactly it is, the pressure there is, how intense training is every day, and just the daily lifestyle.”
“I’m hungry to be back.”
Bassett left the Rapids as a 20-year-old who grew up in Littleton, played for his home state’s team, and never lived outside a Colorado zip code. The move across the Atlantic by himself was monumental, to say the least.
Feyenoord’s operations staff assisted in the moving and adjustment process, but Bassett quickly learned how to handle the housekeeping himself, getting his residency card approved, a work permit, and finding garages to keep his car maintained. Once at Sittard, his ability to adjust was put to the test after being handed the keys to a manual car. Bassett had only ever driven on an automatic transmission.
“[That was] unique…