For Morgan Brown, it was a no-brainer to make the move abroad when the opportunity arose. Having started the season with non-league side Stratford Town, the midfielder, who was more used to full-time football, was offered the chance to join second-tier Cypriot side Aris Limassol.
Aris were a founder member of the Cyprus Football Association and had played in the top-flight as recently as the 2017/18 season. Now in their second season in the second division, Brown was recruited with an eye on promotion.
Just 19 at the time of the move, he was heading abroad for the first time in his career after a long spell at boyhood club Leicester City. The midfielder played for his local club, rising through the ranks up to the under-23 side.
During his time at the King Power Stadium, he played in the FA Youth Cup, U18 Premier League, PL2 and also appeared in the UEFA Youth League alongside the likes of Harvey Barnes and Elliott Moore.
After 11 years with the Foxes, Brown left the club in 2018 and headed across the border to join Aberdeen. He spent a year with the club’s development squad, making an appearance in the Challenge Cup against Raith Rovers.
Once his time at the Dons had come to an end, he returned closer to home to start pre-season with Southern League Premier Division side Stratford Town unaware that in just a few weeks he would be given his first chance at regular senior football abroad.
Joining Aris in August last year, Brown went on to make 14 appearances in the second-tier as his side looked set for promotion after bossing the first half of the season. However, the season was eventually cut short due to the global pandemic, meaning his side missed out on promotion to the top-flight by three points.
I caught up with Morgan as he begins his search for a new club.
EPA: Your move to Cyprus came after a year in Scotland, were you disappointed not to have been given a chance in the first team with Aberdeen?
MB: First off, I want to start by saying a big thank you to Aberdeen for the chance to continue my development having left Leicester, but going back to the question, yes I was massively disappointed. Each day you go into training and work your hardest and to sometimes see other players being picked to go with the first team can be tough mentally – especially when you don’t agree with the decisions being made. All you can do is continue working on yourself and wait for your opportunity but sadly that never came. Although I’m not bitter towards any of my former teammates, I really wish them all the best.
How did the transfer to Aris Limassol come about and what convinced you to make the move?
I attended a Premier League camp in the off-season and they gave us different techniques to try to get in touch with clubs, one of them was an was to use LinkedIn. Shortly after I made the profile, I was contacted by now a very close friend from Cyprus and I jumped at the opportunity to play professional full-time football after starting pre-season in non-league at Stratford Town.
How did you find settling in in Cyprus, was it easy to make the transition living abroad?
Settling into the team was very easy. Every player and the staff made me feel very welcome and my roommate, who is now one of my best friends and a very talented player, made it very easy because we are both young and had the same goals. The football side was also easy for me as our team was very possession based and suited my style of play.
The only hard thing to adapt to was the heat. Pre-season was the worst we started one match with a kick off temperature of 35°C. But I’ve adapted now and have some great memories of last season.
What is the level of professionalism in the Cypriot second-tier, is it of a high standard?
The level of professionalism varies from team to team, in my opinion In the Second Division, the top five or six teams are of very good standard and no disrespect but the bottom half of the table drops a lot in quality. One match we won 7-0.
Your side narrowly missed out on promotion this year, how much of a shame was that after winning your group in the first phase?
I think it’s a huge shame. Our whole team is absolutely gutted, we played so well and worked so hard all year. Going into the final straight of the season we were bang in form and looked a certainty to be promoted.
Having said that you can’t change what’s going on in the world right now and have to respect the government rules, but massive shame for the club who deserve to play in the top division in Cyprus.
I’ve counted there are five other former Leicester players of a similar as well as yourself who are now playing abroad. Was that something you discussed back in England?
To be honest, no we never really discussed the possibility of playing abroad. When I was at Leicester my big goal was to make my debut for Leicester City and play in the Premier League. I still really want that to happen and believe getting game time abroad in men’s professional environment will give me the best opportunity to do so.
Finally, what are your ambitions for the future? Do you want to keep playing abroad?
My ambitions for the future are massive. I have too many goals to list them all, the biggest being to play for my country one day. I know it’s going to take a lot of hard work and also a lot of luck that things to fall into place but I believe I will be successful and achieve everything I want to achieve in the future.
I don’t know what’s going to happen next season in terms of continuing playing abroad but if the right opportunity arises it’s something I would definitely consider on the back of this season having enjoyed my time so much in Cyprus.