Lewis still aiming for fairytale of New York
Zeiko Lewis is just as hungry to make his mark in Major League Soccer as he was the day he was selected by the New York Red Bulls at the MLS SuperDraft at the Los Angeles Convention Centre in January.
“Every day I’m out there trying to get better and show the coaches they can rely on me; show them what I can do and why I should be out there on the field,” Lewis told The Royal Gazette.
“I want to show them dedication and hard work and, on top of that, be an asset to the club.”
Lewis was chosen as the seventeenth overall pick at the draft, making him the second Bermudian to join the Red Bulls, after Khano Smith. He made his debut for the franchise after coming on as a substitute in a 2-0 pre-season win over Portland Timbers in Tucson, Arizona, in January.
However, the 23-year-old forward was then loaned to New York Red Bulls II, the club’s reserve team, who play in the Eastern Conference of the United Soccer League for the season.
While he remains confident that he can prove himself in the MLS, Lewis admits the transition to the professional ranks has not exactly been a bed of roses.
“It was a big transition changing from college and Bermudian football to becoming a professional and I think the hardest thing was mentally,” he said. “You have to have a strong mental capacity. Yes, you have to have the physical abilities and then on top of that you have to be able to play at a very high level.
“But, overall, the hardest thing for me transitioning to professional football was being able to mentally prepare myself for training hard every single day, putting in extras to make myself a better player and how I can help the team become a better unit.
“It’s been a challenge, but the older guys at the club have helped me become stronger.
“The guys at the New York Red Bulls are definitely a good group. They are very open to new people and they accepted me and helped me throughout all my challenges.”
Lewis is the third member of his family behind grandfather Fred “Pinks” Lewis and great-uncle Eversley “Bo” Lewis to turn professional.
Like his grandfather and great-uncle before him, Lewis honed his skills at Young Men’s Social Club, who are back in the Premier Division for the first time in nearly four decades, but have found the going tough.
“Finally seeing Social Club back in the top flight is an honour, especially because of how close the club is to my family,” Lewis said. “A lot of the youngsters don’t know what Social Club have achieved and it’s nice to see them back and hopefully they can relive the glory days.”
Lewis cites his grandfather and father, Troy Lewis, as his biggest sources of inspiration.
“They keep me honest and are always pushing me to go to the next level,” he said. “Even when I think I have had a good game they show me where I could have been even better. It’s humbling because they keep me in check and by doing that I’m able to become a better player and not be content with who I am today.”
Lewis also draws inspiration from other Bermudians who have made their mark in professional football, such as Shaun Goater, Clyde Best, Kyle Lightbourne and Nahki Wells.
“All the hard work and sacrifice they have made in the past gives me more incentive to be better,” Lewis said.
“I strive to be better than those guys and that’s my motivation every day when I step out on the field.”
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