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Page last updated at 08:26 GMT, Tuesday, 26 April 2011 09:26 UK

Luke Rodgers enjoying life with New York Red Bulls

Luke Rodgers celebrates a goal for New York Red Bulls with Thierry Henry
Luke Rodgers celebrates after scoring his first goal for New York Red Bulls

By Phil Cartwright and Rob Adcock
BBC Radio Stoke

On 17 April 2010, Luke Rodgers was part of the Notts County squad that won promotion from League Two after a 4-1 win over Morecambe at Meadow Lane in front of 8,500 supporters.

Nearly one year later, on 16 April 2011, Rodgers played for the New York Red Bulls in a 3-0 victory against San Jose Earthquakes in Major League Soccer, scoring the first two goals and setting up the third for strike partner Thierry Henry.

"Football is crazy, you never know what happens," said the man who fully admits his surprised at the path that his career has taken.

"I've never wanted to do this," the 29-year-old told BBC Radio Stoke. "I've never ever wanted to leave Birmingham, I've always been happy there.

"I never thought I could move countries, but for some reason, when this came up, I made my mind up that I wanted to go and it's the best thing I've ever done."

A quick, diminutive striker, Rodgers came through the ranks at Shrewsbury Town and went on to play for Crewe, Port Vale, Yeovil and Notts County.

However, it was a conversation with former Magpies manager Hans Backe, now in charge of the Red Bulls, that breathed new life into a career that seemed destined to be played out in the lower leagues of English football.

"When the opportunity came, I was excited," said Rodgers. "But I didn't think it was going to happen because you hear about these things all the time.

"When it got closer and they were arranging for me to go and get my visa and things like that, I knew it was for real and I couldn't wait to get there.

"People come here for holidays and we're getting paid to live here. It's crazy."

Henry is one of the growing list of star players to sign for a MLS team and Rodgers still finds it difficult to believe that he is playing alongside one of the greatest players of the Premier League era.

"It's fairytale stuff," he said. "I couldn't believe it when I first walked in and saw him, it was just weird.

Luke Rodgers in action for Notts County
Rodgers won the League Two title with Notts County last season

"He's a top man, he's so funny but he's a good professional. He's just good to have around the dressing room.

"It's not only that he's a great player on the pitch, he's good to have in the team off the pitch as well."

After overcoming a couple of niggling injuries, Rodgers has made an excellent start to life in the MLS and even earned the player of the week award for his performance against San Jose.

The Red Bulls have won three, drawn two and lost one of their first six matches, and Rodgers is predicting a successful season.

"This team wouldn't look out of place in the Premier League," said Rodgers. "Look at the players we've got.

"We've got Thierry Henry and Rafael Marquez, they're world-class players. We've got players who have played in the Premier League like Teemu Tainio [formerly of Tottenham, Sunderland and Birmingham] and a few players that Premier League clubs have tried to sign.

"Everything is set around being in those play-offs and it's very important to a club like this.

"We've spent a lot of money, a team like this should be winning the cup and hopefully I'll be a part of that."

And what of Rodgers' future? Will he ever return to England?

"I'm 29 now and I want to have a couple of good years here," he said. "What's round the corner for me next? I don't know."

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see also
Birchall lives the American dream
04 Apr 11 |  Football
Striker Rodgers to leave Magpies
26 Dec 10 |  Notts County
Henry leaves Barca for New York
14 Jul 10 |  Football
Rodgers' New York move collapses
22 Apr 10 |  Notts County
Notts striker set for US transfer
12 Apr 10 |  Notts County

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