LeBron & Olympics to Colchester United - Marvin Sordell's story

Marvin Sordell
Marvin Sordell made three appearances for Great Britain at the Olympics

How would you feel if millions across the globe analysed every single decision you made at work on a 50-inch tablet with the capability to slow it down to the exact point where it all went wrong?

That's what young men in the Premier League have to deal with every week - and a feeling Marvin Sordell knows well.

The striker was heralded as a potential future full England international after hitting double figures two seasons in a row in the Championship as a youngster for Watford, featuring for the England Under-21 side and playing at the 2012 Olympics for Great Britain.

But, with the next Olympics just around the corner, he now finds himself in League One playing for Colchester United.

"The amount of pressure that goes on players, young players especially before they've even had a chance to make a proper impact, is unbelievable," the 24-year-old told BBC Sport.

"Look at [Aston Villa's] Jack Grealish - people are putting a hell of a lot of pressure on him to perform every week. All he wants to do at his age is carry on playing and keep developing. Same as me even now.

"With that pressure on you to do certain things all the time, it can be distracting from your game because it makes you think you have to do things a certain way, rather than do what's natural or being coached."

Marvin Sordell
Sordell has scored five goals in 12 appearances for Colchester since joining in September

Sordell first broke into the Watford team in 2009, and after scoring 27 goals for the Hornets made a £3m deadline-day move to the top-flight with Bolton in February 2012.

But he only made three scoreless substitute appearances for Owen Coyle's side that season as they were relegated to the Championship.

"For me as I've been growing up, I've never been the most confident anyway," admitted Sordell. "So to go from playing, getting a move and then straight away not playing makes me think 'what have I done?' or 'am I not good enough?' I start to question myself.

"At the time the manager was saying I was training well. Looking back, it's easy to understand football's like that sometimes - you might not get the chance to play or not be the right fit at that time.

"I think I probably wasn't the player the club needed to sign when they needed to stay up in the Premier League. Maybe I was a player for the future, but that wasn't conversed."

Marvin Sordell
Sordell scored eight goals for Bolton, including one in the FA Cup against Everton in 2013

Watford was just a stone's throw away from Sordell's hometown of Harrow, making it easy to wind down from the pressures of football with his close friends and family.

A move up north to Bolton meant living in a hotel before finding an apartment, but he found himself clocking up the miles to go home regularly as he struggled to adjust.

So what did he find the hardest to deal with during a period when his professional life was not going to plan?

"I'd say the exposure," he said. "Playing for England and going up into the Premier League in a big-money move, to me it was just a completely different world.

"The amount of travel that I did as well. Having [family and friends] around you to support you - obviously people are always there on the phone, but it's not the same as popping round to my friend's or going to my girlfriend's or going to have dinner at my mum's if I fancy it. You have to schedule it and get a train down.

"To be honest, I didn't really expect the things that came to me, so for me to say that I was ready to deal with them, that would be a lie really.

"I didn't know what was going to come, how to prepare for these things and I'm not sure how well I dealt with the expectation - but I still tried to carry on enjoying football."

Marvin Sordell & Ryan Giggs
Sordell played for a GB team captained by Ryan Giggs that lost to South Korea in the quarter-finals

Still, Sordell had an experience that so many young footballers would treasure - playing in a team that included Ryan Giggs, Aaron Ramsey and Daniel Sturridge for Great Britain at the London 2012 Olympics.

"When I was in school I remember going to the event when it was announced we were hosting the Olympics," he said. "I would never have even dreamt I'd be playing at the Olympics.

"At the opening ceremony I met LeBron James. There were famous people walking everywhere - you turn around and see Maria Sharapova and walk on and see a whole team of giants and it's the USA basketball team."

He got another shot at the Premier League in 2014 when he left Bolton for Burnley following the Clarets' promotion in 2014, linking up again with Sean Dyche, whom he played under at Vicarage Road.

But after making just four starts and scoring one goal, Sordell left by mutual consent in September before joining Tony Humes' Colchester side.

His move has coincided with a dramatic rise up the league - having not won a game before he arrived, the U's now sit 16th, and he has four league goals to his name.

"I'm pleased to be getting goals and playing games, but ideally I'd like to be getting more goals and more wins," he said before Saturday's FA Cup victory over Wealdstone, in which he scored.

Maybe some time away from the spotlight is doing him the world of good.

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