The first thing I want to mention is the sacrifices my family made to get me here. They always instilled the belief in me that if you work hard, you can accomplish your goals and dreams. They always believed in me, every single day, and they pushed me and my brother to do what we love and give it our all. My parents always made sure my brother and I had the best life possible even if it meant making theirs more difficult. I can never truly repay them for all the struggles they went through just to see my brother and I smile. To my brother, my motivation, my role model in life, you are truly who I want to make proud. I always wanted to be just like you and still do. Never stop lifting my head when it’s down because sometimes that’s all I need. I just want to tell my mom, my dad, my brother, and my entire family thank you and I love you.
I also want to give my best friends some love. The ones who understood that I couldn’t be the same friend I was before. That so many moments spent together would just have to be without me. They understood that to get to where I am and where I want to be, sacrificing time together was a given. But I can’t thank them enough for never turning their back on me and always supporting me in my decisions.
I got to the Chicago Fire Academy when I was 10 years old. I feel that this Club is my second family, my second home. I’ve spent so much time on these fields, with these coaches, with all the staff, that I could never say I’d be here today without their support. There’s just so many people I need to thank that I don’t know where to begin.
The first person that comes to mind is my agent Jaime. I think agent, at this point, is the wrong term to use. I never understood how someone could feel like family without being related by blood, but now I do. You believed in me from the very beginning and because of you and the entire Starting XI organization my dreams became a reality. Not only do you want me to become a great footballer, you want me to become a great human. Thank you for constantly pushing me towards excellence and being a top role model.
Coach Igor and Marek, my mentors, my goalkeeping coaches until I was 15 years old. You guys are the framework of the goalkeeper I am today. Thank you for teaching me to be strong, mentally and physically and for always trying to work on improving my weaknesses. Thank you to Adin Brown, my goalkeeper coach with the first team, who has taught me how to be a real professional. You went above and beyond what you had to do, and you worked overtime with me to make sure I was learning as much as possible. And most importantly, guiding me through the tough moments in my career so far.
Thank you to Eddie Rock and the entire front office who believed in a young kid from Addison and signed me to a professional contract at 14 years old. And most recently, Georg Heitz and Sebastian Pelzer for always pushing me and creating an environment for me to succeed. I’d also like to sincerely thank our owner Joe Mansueto for all the ways in which he invests in our Club and in the city of Chicago to help grow this beautiful game. When people stand behind you, it gives you the confidence you need to go out and perform.
Now, to the most important people out there. The ones who watched me grow up. The ones who make the Club special. I feel like I’m forever indebted to the fans here. I want to thank you all for supporting a local boy from Addison and helping me find myself. As a professional, when you feel the love of the fanbase everything is easier. I am desperate to give you guys a successful playoff experience so we can enjoy lifting silverware together. We have 11 games left to show you guys we can do it. To the families that spend their hard-earned money to come watch us play, no matter the weather or circumstance, you have inspired me to work my hardest day in and day out.
To each and every one of my teammates, the coaching staff, the medical team and all of the support staff at the Club, I spend more time with you than I do my actual family. To say you guys will always hold a special spot in my heart would be an understatement. We’ve seen each other at our best. We’ve seen each other at our worst, and I think that’s something really special. You push me every day and you pick me up after the toughest of moments. It’s been the biggest honor to work and live alongside each and every one of you.
Chicago will always be home and everywhere I go I’ll do my best to represent the hardworking people and this beautiful city in the way that it deserves.
With that being said, I’m extremely humbled and excited to wear a Chelsea jersey. The history of this club is unrivaled, and I’m motivated to show my potential and to grow alongside some of the most elite players, coaching staff, staff members and fans in the world.
I know I have big footsteps to follow. This club has been represented by some of the best players in the world. It’s up to me to show the fans I have what it takes to wear this jersey. I’ll be working my hardest to make everyone who has been part of this club proud. I want to thank Petr Cech for believing in me and helping in giving me this unbelievable opportunity. I also want to thank Todd Boehly and the new ownership for their support throughout this entire process to make this dream a reality. Seeing Stamford Bridge, the Cobham training grounds and the support for the team worldwide, it’s clear why we are the best team in London. The expectations are massive and I’m ready for the challenges ahead.