Chris Cadden: Motherwell graduate on Columbus, Oxford & Irn-Bru

Chris Cadden has spent the first half of the season on loan at Oxford United
Chris Cadden has spent the first half of the season on loan at Oxford United

Around 528 years ago, Christopher Columbus opened the door to the New World.

Setting sail across the Atlantic in the Santa Maria, the Italian explorer eventually spotted landed after 10 choppy weeks at sea, fortuitously stumbling across the Americas by accident.

Over half a millennia on, a different Chris will also embark on a journey west into the unknown, this time destined for the city that now bears his namesake's surname.

Last summer, Scotland international Chris Cadden left Motherwell to take the plunge in MLS, with the right-back now preparing to leave home for his maiden season with Columbus Crew.

With his American Dream beginning this week, he talks to BBC Scotland about the hardest decision of his life, the financial saga enshrouding his departure, mindset coaching and bottles of Irn-Bru.

'It's a monumental decision'

In four days, Cadden knows life may not be the same again. With his family and girlfriend in Scotland, the 23-year-old will step on to a plane to a new country, all in the name of furthering his career.

Given he has spent most of his life living and playing in his hometown, he acknowledges the stark new dawn that awaits him and the dilemma that led him to it.

"I was at Motherwell since I was nine so it was a monumental decision to leave and something I was annoying everyone from my girlfriend to my dad to my mum about," he said.

"It's probably one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. I loved going in every day and I didn't lose the buzz. It was an honour and a privilege. I just felt I needed a different challenge."

That challenge came in the form of Columbus and also Oxford United, a club that had previously shown an interest in signing him. In the end, the English League One side eventually took Cadden on loan from Columbus until the start of the MLS season.

Cadden's departure from Motherwell has, through no fault of his, been anything but smooth.

Due to a loophole whereby MLS sides have yet to be categorised for training compensation, the Scottish Premiership club face missing out on around 280,000 euros for their academy graduate.

"It's not ideal or the way I wanted it to happen. There's nothing I can do about it," said Cadden of an issue that will likely have to be resolved by Fifa.

"It was an opportunity I wanted to take and someone told me about the loophole if you want to call it that, and Columbus said 'right, okay'. I'm not going to turn that down, it's not my fault.

"I know Motherwell haven't been happy but I can only thank them for the support they have given me. It's nobody's fault."

'I don't mind a wee square sausage'

Chris Cadden
Chris Cadden playing for Scotland against Mexico

Despite just being 23, Cadden shows a maturity beyond his years, perhaps no surprise given he has played 162 games since making his Motherwell debut at 17.

James McFadden, his former team-mate, coach and mentor, often praised his work ethic during his teenage years, but the player says it is help with the mental side of the game that has benefitted him most.

For the last two years, Cadden has worked with John Johnstone of Football Mindset, who has helped him - as well as the likes of Hearts' John Souttar and Rangers' Greg Docherty - deal with everything from relegation threats, playing in cup finals, fan abuse to his potentially career-defining move.

"I've always been interested in the mental side of the game," said the two-time Scotland cap. "It really helps me and it's a big part of my preparation for games. He helped me with my decision to go.

"If it's going to get you one percent better than why not do it?"

Once Cadden steps off the plane on Thursday, there will be little time to acclimatise. Three days will be spent in the capital of Ohio, before a training camp in California, with his side's first away trip in March being seven hours away in Seattle.

He has yet to visit Columbus, with his only trip to America being a three-hour stop off at Houston Airport en route to facing Mexico and Peru with Scotland.

Despite that, the American lifestyle is one he is relishing, despite missing the odd taste from home.

"I don't mind a wee square sausage, I missed them in England. And I might take a couple of bottles of Irn-Bru to just get me through," he said.

"I'm a bit nervous about leaving my family and friends. At Oxford, I had to get used to living away from home for the first time and making sure I could actually do it, learning to cook and do washing.

"You can look at it that you are travelling six hours or you can look at it that it's a flight to California. You have to look forward to it."

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