CARSON, Calif. – Depending on how you look at it, Jeremiah White's decision to chase his soccer dream around Europe can be seen as either a cautionary tale or a ringing endorsement of going down the overseas route.
White's call-up into Bob Bradley's United States national team training camp ahead of the Jan. 19 friendly against Sweden is the payoff for several years of toil, determination and desire.
Over the past few days, Bradley has been impressed by White's displays of speed, skill and fitness on the training fields of the Home Depot Center. However, the Wake Forest graduate and 2003 ACC player of the year would not be in Southern California this week if not for one other key ingredient – mental strength.
White's travels have taken him to Serbia, Greece, France and finally Denmark, where his performances for AGF Aarhus captured the attention of Bradley and his national team scouts.
His rite of passage has not always been smooth.
White's first stint in Europe began in unpleasant circumstances when he and two other black friends were confronted by racist thugs on the streets of Belgrade early in his career with the OFK club. According to reports, a skirmish ensued before White and his colleagues were able to make their way to safety.
Even so, the 25-year-old insisted that it was footballing reasons, rather than that incident, that prompted his departure from the club soon after.
"It has been tough at times in Europe, but it has given me some great experiences," White said. "It has made me a lot stronger, not just as a player but also mentally.
"At different times, things tend not to be what you expected; it is just about finding a place where you fit in. The things that you go through all contribute to making you a better person and make it easier for you to deal with things in the future.
"Now I can speak in a few languages, I have seen some of the world and I have played against many different types of players. It has all helped me become not just a ball player but also growing up and becoming a man."
White fluctuated between roles in midfield and as a forward in spells with Panserraikos in Greece and FC Gueugnon in France. But it has been with Aarhus that his game has really developed, helping the storied Danish club reclaim its place in the top flight.
"Getting called up for the national team camp is huge for me," White said. "It shows that the coach takes notice of players in all leagues, regardless of where you are playing.
"If you are good enough, and you are playing well, then you are going to have a chance. This is a great chance for me and I am loving it.
"It is a real buzz to be involved with these guys and to try to show what I can do. It is hard work, but you won't hear me complaining. This is wonderful and I am honored to be involved.
White would've been on vacation in Dubai if he wasn't at Team USA's two-a-day workouts in Carson. "But this is better, much better," he said.