'It’s not like I’ve gone to Mars' - Ex-United 'keeper on move

Former Manchester United goalkeeper Luke Steele says that he is enjoying life since moving to Panathinaikos.

Former Manchester United goalkeeper Luke Steele says that he is loving life in Greece, following a move to Panathinaikos this summer.

The stopper, who represented United for four years back in his younger days, completed a surprising transfer during the previous transfer window after he opted to leave Barnsley to try out a new lifestyle.

It is a decision which he hasn't regretted, either, and he says that the move has worked out brilliantly for him.

"There’s all the culture surrounding the place — and I live by the sea, so it’s drastically different from the streets of Yorkshire. People ask how I’ve adapted but it’s not like I’ve gone to Mars," he said to the Daily Mail.

"I didn’t have any regrets staying that long but I needed to be put out of my comfort zone. This is a new life and a new beginning. The adventure really appealed to me, being thrown in the deep end."

"It’s a short career and I’m just about at the halfway point. I really want to achieve things in football, not just plod along and see it out."

"If I really wanted to kick on and reach the places I’ve dreamed of, like playing in the top leagues or in Europe, I needed to change completely."

There is a regularly used criticism of English players, that they do not move abroad often enough to try out new cultures.

Whilst the Premier League has benefited massively from foreign imports, English born players are often reluctant to leave their homeland and favour moves down the leagues rather than to new shores.

Steele's time may encourage more to take the plunge, though, and the atmosphere that he has experienced since completing his transfer to Greece has amazed him.

"I couldn’t believe it," he explained. "I thought there would be two or three hundred and there were thousands. It was like they’d just been let out of prison for their first football match. I absolutely loved it.

"There were fireworks and smoke bombs — and this was a pre-season friendly. I came on in the second half and I was jumping around because firecrackers were going off behind me.

"That got blown out of the water when I went to the Panathinaikos stadium and saw our fans for the first time. You’ve got Gate 13 who are the fanatics. They’re behind one of the goals like a hive of bees. The noise, the smoke bombs, the fireworks. It’s absolutely electric."

Steele's Panathinaikos play in the Europa League so his chances of returning to England, albeit for one game, are not impossible.

However, for now, his attention remains firmly in Greece: "For me, it’s pretty much sand, sea, crazy football fans and Panathinaikos," he said.

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