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Men’s Soccer: Humble hero

Eric Retter | Thursday, August 31, 2006

Notre Dame midfielder Greg Dalby isn’t a big fan of receiving individual attention – but to hear him tell it, media attention isn’t something someone in his position would encounter too often.

“It’s not really something college soccer players have to deal with,” he said.

Dalby, however, may be working on becoming an exception to that rule – as made evident by the Notre Dame athletic billboards scattered around South Bend featuring his image.

In fact, Dalby has reached a marker of success that few reach in their careers – serving as his own point of reference for those familiar with him.

“Greg’s just got to be Greg,” said Irish head coach Bobby Clark when asked for specifics about what he would be looking for out of his most experienced player.

With what he’s shown on the field for the Irish, the growing attention being paid to the senior two-year captain is justified. A former captain of the United States U-20 national team and a Gatorade high school player of the year, Dalby has started every one of Notre Dame’s games since arriving in South Bend three autumns ago.

Recently, he was named a preseason All-American and listed as one of the 25 players to watch for the Missouri Athletic Club’s Hermann Trophy – an award presented annually to the top soccer player. He also received both honors in his junior season.

Dalby, however, discounts the overall importance of individual distinctions.

“All those things are a great honor, but at the end of the day I don’t think they mean much or matter much,” he said. “The way you play every day and the way you carry yourself is much more important.”

Those around Dalby have noticed his attitude.

“The thing about having somebody who has had the accolades that he has and the fact that he is one of the most humble players on the team is great because it keeps everybody else humble,” Clark said. “It’s good to be confident, but it’s good to have humility, always knowing that the team comes first. Greg is a great example of this. He lives that example, and by doing so, it makes it easier for others to follow.”

As a captain, Dalby will also be able draw on his international experience to help lead the team.

“I took so much from that experience [on the U-20 National team],” he said. “Every day you had to come to practice you were competing for your spot and competing in front of a lot of people.”

Furthermore, Dalby attributes his time on the U-20 team as a major reason for his success as an NCAA athlete.

“It’s definitely helped me get to where I am today – being here at Notre Dame, being a senior captain on this team – so I’m very grateful for it,” he said.

After completing his time with the U-20 team Dalby – who is too old to continue to play – is waiting to see when and if he will make that next step in the national team system.

“It’s not up to me, he said. “When it’s over, it’s over, until they call you back to camp.”

Currently, however, Dalby is completely focused on the Notre Dame season.

“I think this team is more than capable of winning a national championship,” he said. “I know that’s most important to me and I know that’s most important to our seniors.”

With all the hardware Dalby has already collected, a national title ring would go a long way towards completing his collection.

“If I can leave this program, leave this school with a national championship, to me that’s all that really matters,” he said.