He's a rookie. In his first season on the eMLS scene - or in competitive FIFA overall - New York Red Bulls eMLS player George Adamou is a champion.
Adamou, just 20-years-old, is a Queens kid who finished out the eMLS season on top, competing virtually against the rest of the league and eventually raising the trophy with a victory over crosstown rivals NYCFC in the eMLS Cup Final.
"Winning eMLS Cup as a rookie is a feeling I can’t really put into words," Adamou said.
Adamou had made it to the final of League Series 1 in his first major tournament, eventually falling to two-time champ Fiddle from FC Cincinnati.
"In my first eMLS tournament, I had a taste of what it felt like to play in a final," he said. "Looking back at it now, losing was truly a blessing in disguise. The loss didn’t sit easy with me, and the need to play in another final, to experience the success once denied drove me."
The LS1 Final disappointment, as well as a not-so-hot showing in League Series 2, drove Adamou to focus more on the gameplay, as well as the mental aspect of the game.
"I put in countless hours of practice after that loss, determined to never experience the agony of such defeat again," he said. "After all that effort and preparation, I seized my opportunity and lifted the eMLS Cup. An absolutely unbelievable feeling."
Adamou said the support he received from the club has been a major help for him, both on and off the sticks.
"Having people behind the scenes who genuinely care and want the best for you is something many people take for granted," Adamou said. "Since the day I signed for the Red Bulls, I was treated with the utmost respect, and was provided opportunities I will forever be grateful for. The Red Bulls have showed time and time again that this isn’t just a team, this is a family -- one determined to making sure that both my needs as an individual, and the needs of the club, are met."
Adamou said he received messages from Head Coach Chris Armas, Captain Sean Davis, defender Aaron Long and midfielder Ben Mines leading up to the eMLS Cup matchday.
Adamou joined the Red Bulls in 2019 as the team's second eMLS player beside Mike LaBelle. Adamou was identified by LaBelle as a up-and-coming player who the Red Bulls were able to bring on board.
"A special mention must be given to Mike LaBelle," Adamou said. "Having a player and a man so well established in the scene as not only a teammate, but in many ways as a mentor has certainly helped in navigating the arena that is FIFA eSports."
LaBelle echoes the commitment from the club and the support both have as eMLS representatives from the Red Bulls.
"Since signing for RBNY, George and I talk daily regarding strategies, squad building, branding, and mental preparation for events," LaBelle said. "That's my right hand man! We are both highly critical and it matches seamlessly when we review gameplay together from past tournaments."
Adamou said that being able to attend college from home was a benefit, as it gave him more time to focus on his studies as well as grind on the game.
"The fact that this is the first eMLS trophy that the Red Bulls have won only makes this victory sweeter," he said. "I truly believe that this trophy can be the catalyst for future successes for the organization."
LaBelle sees this as just the beginning for Adamou.
"Truly, I couldn't be more proud of George, and this feels like just the beginning," LaBelle said. "He's hungry to win more titles, develop his brand and is ready for the upcoming FIFA 21 season."
And where will Adamou go from here?
"I genuinely believe that this is only the beginning of my career and successes in the FIFA scene, and will be looking to build upon my successes during the next FIFA title," he said. "I am the reigning champion, and will do everything in my power to defend my title. This is the beginning of a long journey and I’m happy to have everyone with me along the ride. Red Bull fam forever. Thank you everyone."