Hello, I’m Ray Hudson, a kid from northeastern England whose mind was zapped by the sunshine and all the other stuff when I arrived in South Florida in 1977 to play for the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. I never left and I’m now an analyst (some would say a “magisterial” analyst) for beIN Sports.
“Time passes so quickly it seems as we get older, and I think when we reflect back on those time in NASL, it was an extremely special time. There’s a great line in the film ‘June’: ‘The beginning is a delicate place to start.’ It says so much about how things are at the outset. How crucial it can be. It was an adventure that I’m proud to have been a part of. It was super special.
“I’ll love being able to see so many of those friends and foes. It’s going to be really, really cool.”
After spending time with Newcastle United without breaking through, Ray was offered the opportunity to go to “that new American league.”
“Hey, I was blond, red-blooded and 21 years old in Fort Lauderdale. You put it together. It was eye-popping. And it was a wonderful team.
“We had this one-eyed goalkeeper [Gordon Banks]. [Teo] Cubillas didn’t speak a word of English. Neither did Gerd Müller. The Dutch guys were fine. It was this wonderful non-language we spoke on the practice field. And our coach, Ken Fogarty, held it all together with his humor.”
“That first year, when we played in front of 77,000 at Giants Stadium we announced to the world that something was happening here. There was astonishing talent. The NASL and the people who built it had a bottle rocket. a shooting star too soon.”
“At one point [Bobby] Robson wanted me to return to England. I told him I wasn’t interested. It’s important for the league to be remembered as an important signpost for football in this country.”