ROANOKE, Va. – “It’s hard at first but just know it will pay off in the end.”
Daniel Pereira moved from his home country of Venezuela to Roanoke back in 2015. He recalls that it wasn’t the smoothest transition.
“I knew no English when I got here so it was quite hard,” said Pereira. But what Pereira did know was how to school others on the soccer pitch.
He recalls scoring over 70 goals in his high school career as a Viking and even played for a VHSL state title during his senior season.
“I trusted everyone around me--parents, teachers and friends I made since day one. So they were the ones that made it a lot easier.”
Those groups of people helped Pereira on a path that would lead to great success in a short amount of time. After excelling at Northside, Pereira earned a scholarship to play collegiately at Virginia Tech. It was there where he put together two solid seasons. Before he knew it, his name came up when it was time for the 2021 Major League Soccer SuperDraft.
“I was supposed to go like, third or fourth,” Pereira said. But instead the soccer star was the first overall draft pick, selected by Austin FC.
“Getting called number one was an amazing experience.” Austin FC was an expansion team--creating the perfect bond for a rookie player and a brand new team entering the league.
Pereira told the students his first season was a rough transition. But, this past year was better for him individually and the team overall. Austin FC reached the MLS Western Conference Finals and Pereira netted his first career goals in 2022.
“It was something I finally got off my back,” said Pereira.
The biggest lessons he’s learned? On the field: the mentality you have to play with. Off the field: take care of your body. Watch Daniel’s full interview below.