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Wisconsin native who played in World Cup mentors kids back home: “What’s experience if you can’t share it?”

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GLENDALE -- The life of a professional athlete normally has to be a very selfish one so that he or she can be as successful as possible. When that comes to an end, not everyone is able to turn the focus outward. A retired athlete, originally from Wisconsin, is successfully making that transition.

Kids in Glendale recently had the opportunity to play soccer and learn about the game from somebody who has been to the top of the sport.

"This is somebody who's played against Ronaldo, Messi, Rooney, Brazil, Argentina -- the top teams in the world," James Moran with the Milwaukee Soccer Development Group said. "Somebody actually from Green Bay, Wisconsin who's played at the highest level. He's played in the World Cup. He's played in England. He's only the second player from Wisconsin, behind Jimmy Banks, to actually play in the World Cup. He's the first person from Wisconsin to actually play in the Premier League."

Jay DeMerit

Jay DeMerit

Jay DeMerit, a recently retired professional soccer player hosted a soccer clinic at the InBounds Training Center in Glendale.

"He wants to help grow the sport for the youth. So I mean, it's just a great experience for us so far and I believe also for Jay from the interest and the support shown from the community," Moran said.

Joab Medina is one of those paying close attention.

"It's something I can write in my record. I met Jay DeMerit," Medina said.

Medina is a coach on Milwaukee's south side. 18 of his kids took part in the clinic.

"Number one is for them to get some skills, learn from the best as they say. Number 2 is for them to realize their dreams could come true," Medina said.

"I just think what's experience if you can't share it?" DeMerit said.

Along with working on soccer skills, DeMerit shared his personal story of success.

Jay DeMerit

Jay DeMerit

"I didn't get drafted into the MLS. So I knew I'd have to do it the hard way. My hard way started in the 12th division of the UK. I moved over to London with a friend of mine that I'd been living with in Chicago -- sleeping in an attic for a year," DeMerit said.

His living conditions would improve as his hard work paid off -- making his way to the world's most elite level, the English Premier League.

"Two years after that I was playing for the national team and two years after that I was playing in the World Cup. When you actually get to put on that jersey and say you're one of 11 that gets to represent your country on the biggest stage in the world, it doesn't get much better than that," DeMerit said.

Jay DeMerit

Jay DeMerit

In 2011, he would return to North America to play in the league that didn't draft him -- the MLS, retiring four seasons later.

"So one of the big messages is it doesn't just happen in a day. It happens in a very slow process. If you keep the right attitude and you keep the right mindset and you take it one step at a time, there's no more steps that you can't achieve," DeMerit said.

His steps have brought him back to Wisconsin -- to work with and mentor kids.

Jay DeMerit

Jay DeMerit

"It's about life and how we can take something or an idea that no one thinks you can do -- and if you can be the proof of that opposite, then there's no reason you can't instill that into the youth of now," DeMerit said.

It's also something personal, as DeMerit can now turn his focus from being a professional athlete to inspiring a new generation to find their way to success.

"I realize that creating a well-rounded kid is lot more important than creating an athlete. So I really have a passion in that. And I'll do a lot more in the future," DeMerit said.

Jay DeMerit

Jay DeMerit

DeMerit is hoping to return to Wisconsin next year to help more kids. He currently lives in Vancouver, British Columbia with his wife -- where he's busy with a company he recently started turning furniture into stereos.

Jay DeMerit

Jay DeMerit