Huddersfield teenager Sheiden Rogers is making the most of his chance to play football in Sweden.
The 20-year-old former Huddersfield Town junior is resurrecting his playing career by joining the ranks of Ytterhogdals IK.
Rogers suffered a serious ankle injury that required surgery and missed the crucial season where he needed to make an impact to earn a professional deal with Town.
As a result the Dalton lad was not handed a first year contract and last season was playing with AFC Emley.
However, Rogers received a call from the League Football Education (LFE), which is a partnership set up by The Football League and The Professional Footballers’ Association to manage the apprenticeship schemes at League clubs.
As a result he was given the chance of 13 weeks working with the Ytterhogdals IK club who play in Division Three of the Swedish League.
“Going out there was a little bit of a gamble but I would say it had worked out,” said Rogers, who had trials with Manchester United and Liverpool as a junior before initially joining Bradford City and eventually the scheme at his hometown club.
“The first three months I had out there was the trial period – essentially the first half of the season.
“I then went into the second half of the season on the basis that the club was looking at me in terms of earning a contract for next season.
“Three months was a fair amount of time to show what you could do and prove yourself and the good thing was that I managed to get enough gametime.
“Before we went out the club made it clear there was no guarantee of gametime, just the opportunity to prove yourself, but if you did well enough they you got the gametime.
“Those who got through got a one-year contract, so when I go back out for next year in February and I have the whole season ahead of me.”
That season promises to be an exciting one as Ytterhogdals IK are gunning for promotion to the second division after a narrow miss last time round.
“We just missed out on promotion to the second division having finished second in the third division,” explained Rogers.
“The system in Sweden puts the runners-up in the play-offs with the third, fourth and fifth teams and the winner of the play-offs faces the team in the relegation slot from the division above.
“We ended up losing in that game having come through the play-offs, but we felt we got a tough deal given the way the opposition played in that game.
“However, they knew how to stop us. They killed the tempo of the game and that can be all that it takes.”
And his move to Scandinavia has brought a change in playing position for the naturally left-footed Rogers, who was viewed primarily as a left winger when on Town’s books – though his injury has played a part in reviewing his role
“I am still having to do some rehab on ankle and go into the gym and do work to strengthening it and I am still trying to get flexibility back into the joint,” he explained.
“I have to say that it has changed the way I play and I have had to adapt.
“But it has ended up with me learning some different approaches and a new role in the team.
“I was regarded as a winger at Town, but now I have gone to Sweden I am being viewed more as a striker or the link up player between the midfield and the attack – much more in a central role.”
Also the differing style of Scandinavian football has also played a part.
“The style of play is different and they do tend to sit off you and give you more room,” added Rogers.
“They allow you to play out from the back and that probably suits us better as a team.
“We have 10 of us in the squad from England who have all played at some stage with professional clubs, so we all have the technical ability to play.
“We have had teams who have tried to press us, but it hasn’t worked out as we are able to deal with that as well.
“Also a lot of the time you are
playing on artificial surfaces and we are one of just three or four teams in our division who play on grass pitches.
“We have lost a couple of games on artificial pitches and it has an effect, you get a different bounce and they tend to use a different ball – so it does make it a test at times.”
Now well aware of the obstacles that playing in Sweden can throw up, Rogers is confident that Ytterhogdals can complete the job of gaining promotion next season.
“For next season we have qualified for the group stages of the Swedish Cup and that acts as an attraction,” he said.
“We have a couple of new English lads coming over, but we have also attracted a few Swedish players who have joined us after dropping down from the second division.
“So we are getting more players coming to us and with last year’s experience we are very hopeful.
“We definitely want to top the table and get immediate promotion rather than face the hassle of the play-offs that we had last season.”