He went on to mark Pele and face Franz Beckenbauer, playing to packed houses in the North American Soccer League. Graeme Souness was a team-mate. George Best was a drinking buddy. But for young Rajinder Singh Virdee, the glamour of the United States was beyond comprehension when growing up in Kenya. It even seemed a world away upon moving to Birmingham at the age of seven... The West Midlands was a tough environment for an Asian child in the 1960s and Rajinder Singh Virdee had to endure racism. One particular moment sparked the name change that saw him become known as Roger Verdi. My experience of racism was felt when I was about 11 years old, he tells Sky Sports. I thank the man who turned my skin into a thick skin and made me immune to name calling. As kids we used to get together on Sundays with our mates and a few girls to go to the park. There was this one girl called Anita. We liked each other and I went around her house and knocked on the door and her father opened it. I asked if Anita was home and he replied: My daughter doesnt play with ****. I went home to bed and cried. It was the last time I would be hurt by racism. The 2016 MLS season kicks off this Sunday with two live games on Sky Sports Verdi is matter of fact when discussing such an appalling incident. His attitude is an example of the relentless drive hes exhibited in overcoming the challenges in his life. He can tell such a tale without a hint of self-pity before segueing into a story about why he loved growing up in Birmingham without appearing to notice the contradiction. Ironically, its a show of very British stoicism.Do you know how difficult it is for me to travel through airports? he later asks. Its a line said in humour as much as anger. But despite his jovial nature and the fond memories of a childhood spent playing football in the park, the stumbling blocks in his way have been serious ones. There was little precedent for a British Asian to embark on a career in football. It was a culture clash from the outset. Football was my goal since I was a kid in Kenya, says Verdi. I made sacrifices to make it regardless of the obstacles in my way. I disregarded my culture, my education, changed my name and refused to have an arranged marriage. My mother never saw me kick a ball in her life but she let me follow my dream no matter where it took me.In my era there were no Asian players and very few black players in the game and it was obvious to see that the British managers or scouts were not looking at us. We werent on the youth teams and the culture played a big part in this. For me, I had to make a change and get out of my environment and play with the white kids where I could be seen and also improve my game.It shouldnt have been that way but Verdi was prepared to play by their rules in order to fulfil his own ambitions. He soon signed schoolboy forms with Wolves but his best times in England came as a young professional at Ipswich. It was there that Verdi encountered future Barcelona and England manager Sir Bobby Robson. The impact has never left him. Bobby Robsons generosity impressed Verdi during his time at Ipswich Sir Bobby was really special to me, says Verdi. He was the only man who gave me a chance and looked at me as a player and not just my skin colour. He was a players manager. Youd run through a brick wall for him and he was very compassionate. He understood the game. He always looked on the positive side even in defeat. Then it was back on the training ground to fix the problems.I had a few of the London boys calling me names during my career when I was at Ipswich but nothing that would upset me and at the end of the game you shook hands and that was that. The problem was that people at pro level didnt see many people of colour playing football. I dont think it was racism, it was that they never thought of a black guy, never mind an Asian, playing football.In a strong Ipswich side, the breakthrough never came and they even held on to his registration with the reserves, scuppering an opportunity to move to Aston Villa. With a career in England in danger of fizzling out, Verdi eventually opted to embark on a new adventure that would take him across the Atlantic to the continent where he still resides 40 years on.Bobby Cram, the former West Brom and Colchester full-back, got a coaching job in Vancouver, explains Verdi. He knew me from Ipswich and asked me if I would like to go to play for him out there. There was no hesitation. For me, the decision was easy as I knew in my heart I had to get away. He signed for Vancouver Spartans in the Western Canada Soccer League. Kaka, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard pick out some MLS players to watch Soon after came Verdis big break. It was bizarre how it happened, he says. I was playing for the Vancouver Spartans and was picked to play in the all-star game in an exhibition against Montreal Olympique of the NASL. They had some good players such as Graeme Souness and Mike Dillon of Spurs, Dennis Walker from Manchester United and Keith Pointer from West Ham.I was playing at right-back and they had a pretty good left-winger, but somehow I just happened to have a great game against him. The manager for Montreal was Graham Adams and after the game both teams went to a restaurant for a meal and Bobby came up to me and told me that Graham wanted to sign me for Montreal.He needed a defensive holding midfielder to play behind Souness. Bobby told me that I would be better off in the North American Soccer League, and so I signed right there in the pub and the next day I was travelling with Montreal to Winnipeg for another exhibition game. I even managed to score on my debut. The young Souness had yet to get his big move to Liverpool but the quality was obvious even then. Graeme was in a class of his own, says Verdi. You could see the cockiness and the confidence he had in his ability to play the game. He could command the pitch and he had good leadership qualities because he led by example. And, of course, like me, he didnt back out of a tackle.His personality was such that if he liked you then he liked you, and if not then you should stay away from him as he was not shy of an argument. To play with Graeme was a treat because he always wanted the ball and that makes the team-mates job easier because great players who have sound techniques are comfortable on the ball. They always want it.It wasnt just Souness, either. Suddenly, Verdi was catapulted into another world - one populated by his heroes. There were matches against Johan Cruyff, Carlos Alberto and Eusebio. Englands World Cup winners Sir Geoff Hurst and Bobby Moore were out there. Verdi also mentions the likes of Mike England, Alan Hudson and Rodney Marsh. I could go on forever, he admits.They are vivid memories but some still stand out from the crowd. Pele was something special, he recalls. There will never be another Pele. Even so, another man left just as big an impression. For me, Franz Beckenbauer was the complete player, he adds. He played the game with great simplicity, vision and imagination. Franz Beckenbauer alongside Gerd Muller: The Kaiser was an inspiration to Verdi When we played New York and they came out from the tunnel, I just stood there staring at him. You could sense his arrogance and he just looked so comfortable on the pitch. When the game started I just watched how simple he made the game look. Everything he did, he made it look so easy and effortless. Im so jealous of the players who got to play with the Kaiser.And then there was George Best. When I was at Ipswich as an apprentice, we had to clean up the dressing rooms after the games and I saw Besty at arms length from me, says Verdi. Then I had the pleasure of playing against him when he played for the LA Aztecs. He was still brilliant. He was so natural, shirt out, socks rolled down, he dared you as a defender to come and take the ball away.Football was so easy for him and I think he just got bored with it. I met him and his dad Dickie at his bar in Los Angeles. We played darts and he was great. He was just a normal person but I could sense that while football needed him, he didnt need football. Everything came to him so fast that he really didnt get the time to enjoy it. George Best impressed during his time in the North American Soccer League Verdi, on the other hand, tried to make the most of the experience. While there are regrets, such as the missed penalty for Miami Toros in the 1974 Soccer Bowl shootout - during the season I scored six out of six but come to the final, would you believe it, I missed it on live television and we lost - his biggest disappointment was that his career played out away from the gritty reality of England.I am grateful that I got to play against some of the greats regardless of their age, he adds. However, it was not what I imagined. It was more of a circus than football, with passion and atmosphere missing. It was only a four-month season and there was nothing consistent about it but I had to make the best of it. It offered me a decent life.That sense of a career unfulfilled still shapes his view of the game today. If it was in this era, I know I would have achieved my goals, he says. But there are new goals now. Verdi has helped to set up a coaching school in Dallas and still yearns for the chance to try his luck in England as a manager. In 1994, Verdi returned to England to complete his full coaching badge at Lilleshall. Verdis Miami Toros during their successful 1974 NASL season [Credit: NASL] However, having escaped racism as a player, he now finds himself confronted with similar challenges in his coaching career. As before, its not necessarily his skin colour, per se, thats perceived as a problem but the feeling that his background differs too greatly from the accepted route. Despite his time in a footballing circus, Verdi has never been one for the merry-go-round.Doing my full badge was great, he says. I wanted to seek an opportunity in coaching but, once again I would face familiar obstacles having been away from England for so long. Its such an old boys club and its all about who you know rather than what you know. Its not right but I am not going to lose any sleep over it or cry about it.The modern world is a tough place to live and football is a cruel game, so youd better get yourself some thick skin and move on. I am not going to blame prejudice for not fulfilling my dream of achieving what I wanted in my life in England. I certainly had the passion, drive, desire, attitude and the work ethic to get there.And with that, hes off. A one-off. Theres still only one Roger Verdi. Its a chant that hed have liked to have heard more in his playing career. But in another sense, its to his ongoing credit and perhaps a pitiful reflection on the English game that it remains true to this day. Its quite a story. And if Verdi has anything to do with it, that story isnt over just yet.Roger Verdi is now working alongside Aaron Jacob to launch the AJF Agency, recruiting 16 to 19-year-old old youth players who wish to play and attend colleges for a four-year degree programme in the United States. Also See: Players desperate to join MLS WATCH: Cole arrives at Galaxy Cheap Jordan . LOUIS -- Heading into the final stretch of the season, the issues for the Chicago Bears banged-up defence only seem to be getting worse. Discount Air Jordan .S District Court against Major League Baseball, the Office of the Commissioner and his own union, the MLBPA. https://www.wholesalejordanshoeschina.com/ .ca looks back at the stories and moments that made the year memorable. Wholesale Air Jordan . They were putting most of their energy into a record-setting offensive display. Air Jordan Outlet . Defencemen Drew Doughty, Shea Weber and forward Ryan Getzlaf also scored for the Canadians, who started their gold-medal defence 2-0. Goalie Roberto Luongo, getting the call in place of Game 1 starter Carey Price, was solid when needed in making 23 saves for the shutout. EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The rehabilitation of Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewaters left knee will require recovery from multiple ligament reconstruction.The team issued a statement Friday from director of sports medicine and head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman, revealing that the surgery the day before was performed in Dallas by Dr. Dan Cooper at the Carrell Clinic. The dislocation of Bridgewaters knee during practice on Aug. 30 resulted in a complete tear of his anterior cruciate ligament, accompanied by other significant damage as initially announced by the Vikings.Sugarmans statement didnt specify what that was, only that more than one of the four ligaments needed reconstruction. Beside the ACL, theres the lateral collateral ligament, the medial collateral ligament and the posterior cruciate ligament. The ACL is damaged more often, but injury to the lesser-known PCL can also be a challenge to bounce back from.Coach Mike Zimmer said he didnt know the specifics.I dont know all the fancy words. It was what they typically do on a dislocation, the coach said. I talked to him yesterday and texted him last night, so hes in good spirits.Zimmer was in relatively good spirits, too, despite losing his starting quarterback 12 days before the season opener. Zimmer again declined to reveal who will start at Tennessee on Sunday, but he said after practice on Friday that hes already decided between Sam Bradford and Shaun Hill.Thats a strong indication that Hill will start, given the 15-year veterans familiarity with the offense. The Vikings gave both quarterbacks turns with the first team this week, but Bradford hhas only had seven days and five practices with the team.dddddddddddd. The coaches have raved about Bradford being a quick study, but if they didnt trust Hill to start a game like this there was no point in having him as the backup in the first place.I guess well find out on Sunday, Zimmer said.As for Bridgewater, hes expected back in Minnesota in about a week.One of the things he said was he cant wait to get back here and be around the guys, so Im sure hell try to be around, Zimmer said, but the most important thing for him is to try to do the rehab.Sugarman, who was in Dallas to observe the surgery, said the repair was excellent and will give Bridgewater every reason to be very optimistic about his recovery.Teddy already began the rehab process yesterday, will return to Minnesota to continue on the road to recovery very soon and looks forward to getting back on the field, Sugarman said.Game notes Backup running back Jerick McKinnon returned to practice after sitting out on Thursday with a foot injury. He was listed as questionable to play the Titans along with wide receiver Charles Johnson (quadriceps), but Zimmer said McKinnon should be fine for Sunday. Backup center Nick Easton (ankle) and backup tight end MyCole Pruitt (left knee) have been ruled out. ... The Vikings also this week released safety Michael Griffin, who was initially placed on injured reserve with a back injury.---Online:AP NFL website: http://www.pro32.ap.org and AP NFL Twitter feed: http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL ' ' '