Michael Green was born in Birmingham, England. But that’s not why soccer is in his blood. He was barely in the English town long enough to have a cuppa’. Green’s brother Chris was another story. Chris was 7 when the Green family headed to America, and by then had already found football – European style – fit him to a tea, err, T.
“My dad had to work over there,” Michael Green says. “My family ended up moving there. That’s how my brother learned to play soccer. He continued to play over here. He was actually really good. I used to watch him play and I wanted to play.”
And he did.
“For as long as I can remember,” Green says, “I’ve been kicking a soccer ball.”
For the last four years, he’s been kicking them for Strongsville High School, where his impact was felt immediately. He notched nine goals and six assists as a freshman. During his sophomore year those numbers jumped to 17 and 14. As a junior Green scored 16 goals and assisted on 18 to lead the Mustangs to the state semifinals, where they lost to eventual champion Stow.
He topped all of that off this year with 16 goals and 13 assists. He converted nearly half his 34 shots. He had a hand in nearly half of the Mustangs’ goals. The Mustangs finished 12-2-4, losing their first and last games of the season. The latter was a 2-1 loss to Medina in the Brunswick Division I District semifinal.
That production and consistency are why Green has been named the Huntington Bank/Ohio High Player of the Year for boys soccer.
“His statistics speak for themselves,” says Strongsville coach Tobey Cook. “Michael not only could score important goals for us but he was as complete and unselfish a player I've had the pleasure of coaching.”
Green’s name is littered about Strongsville’s career record book. His 49 career goals are tied for second all-time in school history. His 45 assists are first by a wide margin, as is his point total of 143.
There is one record he missed out on, and it grinds him. Green appeared in 78 career games, one shy of the team mark. It’s not the record he wanted. Rather, he wanted more games. Finishing his career in the district semifinal was not what he had in mind.
“It was very disappointing,” Green says. “For me, it felt like it didn’t happen. You’ve got nothing to do after that. You just stop playing and you just stop practice. You just kind of lose your way and there’s nothing to do. You can’t say, ‘Oh, there’s next year,’ when you’re a senior. It’s very disappointing.”
That’s the type of attitude coaches love. That, along with his skills, are what landed him a scholarship to play for the University of New Mexico. He verbally committed to the school last March, choosing it over the likes of UCLA, UConn, Ohio State, SMU, Michigan and St. John’s.
He has no idea what he’s going to study. There’s plenty of time to figure that out. As for soccer, Cook believes his star will have no problem figuring that out at the next level.
“I have little doubt that he will have a successful collegiate career and meet his goal of playing professional soccer,” the Mustangs coach says. “He still has much to learn about playing the game and I’m quite sure that he will work diligently to attain his goal.”
It’s something Green has worked at since he was a wee lad. Following his brother’s footsteps, he started playing with a local Strongsville travel team. By elementary school, he already knew soccer was a means to opening doors in his future.
He played a year of basketball in grade school, but gave up other sports to pursue his greatest passion. He’s been at it ever since. This year he became Strongsville’s third Ohio Coaches Association player of the year, joining Doug Deken (1996) and Bruce Murphy (1999).
Beyond it all, Green is just a normal kid. He plays video games, listens to rap music and eats PB&J. In the end, though, he’s a soccer player.
“I just love the game,” Green says. “I always have. I’ve loved it for as long as I can remember. I can’t imagine not playing it.”