Not many former U.S. Men’s National Team players have made the jump of playing professional soccer in the Republic of Ireland, but Josh Gatt is aiming to be the latest to do so.
Gatt recently signed with Irish giants Dundalk FC this summer looking to continue what has been a busy career abroad. Dundalk is the reigning League of Ireland Champions as well as winners of the Irish FA Cup in 2019 and looking to add more trophies to its ever-growing list this season.
The American winger is just a few weeks into the new season, but has enjoyed the new challenge in a new country.
“Overall things are going well, I can’t complain much at all,” Gatt told SBI. “People have been very nice, helpful and the guys on the team have been extremely welcoming and kind. So far it has been a pleasant experience.”
“I have really only had the chance to play in two matches so far and ironically it was against the same team in the same week. But those games were good for me, I stayed healthy, I had some bright moments in the game, I am just looking now to earn some more consistent playing time at this point.”
The 28-year-old has bounced around throughout his career with his last spell coming with Austrian Bundesliga side Rheindorf Altach from 2018-19. In 15 appearances with the club, Gatt scored one goal and registered four assists, but was not retained after the league season.
Gatt decided to take a chance and join Dundalk, whom is one of the top teams in Ireland. The club has won back-to-back league titles and five of the last six, setting the standard for new success in the country. It was an easy decision for the winger to sign with them as a free agent.
“I was offered a chance to be on the best team in the country with the best players in the country,” Gatt said. “That for me, wasn’t an opportunity I wanted to pass up.”
“We as a team like to play football, get the ball on the pitch and knock it around, try to break teams down through good passing and clever play. The league itself is a physical league, most teams want to play, they are well organized and have a very hard nose attitude about their game.”
Gatt’s career has been a whirlwind to say the least with stops in the United States, Austria, Norway, to go along with Ireland. After a first stint with Rheindorf Altach in 2010, Gatt was signed by Norwegian side Molde, led by former Manchester United star and current Red Devils manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
In his five seasons playing for Molde, Gatt played a part in three Eliteserien title successes and two Norwegian Cups, while also overcoming a serious knee injury. Despite missing parts of two seasons due to his knee, Gatt continued to reminisce of the memories he made working with Solskjaer at Molde.
“Ole was the best manager I ever had,” Gatt said. “He trusted me as a player and a person, he worked with me so much to help develop my game and become an even better player than I could have ever done on my own. That time in my life was a wonderful experience, and winning those titles were my most treasured football memories. I am grateful to Ole for helping me become the player I am today.
“In playing in each league I have learned how to deal with success and failure. I’ve learned to adapt to hard situations and try to enjoy the moments when things are going well. Sometimes football doesn’t go the way you hope or plan, so to have resilience and adaptability to any situation, I think as an older professional now is key to have.”
This November will mark eight years since Gatt made his senior debut for the USMNT, appearing in a friendly against Russia while still playing professionally in Noway. He has earned two USMNT caps to date and could have been considered for future appearances if not for his knee problems from 2013-15′. After playing alongside current USMNT legends Tim Howard, Jozy Altidore, and Michael Bradley, Gatt sees plenty of hope for this young and rising group of players now.
“Talent wise I think the team has loads of it,” Gatt said. “But so far as a group they haven’t been able to really gel it together to make a big enough impact on the world stage. I think with time they will become a special team. But they will need to improve as a unit, not just individuals, to truly succeed.
“The USMNT has several talented individuals who are playing at top clubs across Europe. They have a real chance to do something special, but they all have to be willing to take games over. They have to be willing to be the ones to make differences. For their clubs they have done that, and I think for their country they will start to do it more and more.”
Gatt’s league season continues this week before Dundalk also aims to continue its hopes of playing in Europe. After being eliminated from the UEFA Champions League first qualifying round by Slovenian side Celje, Dundalk will be included in the UEFA Europa League second qualifying round which is slated to begin in September.