Trevor Dawkins never made it as a player.
"Never thought I would," he says candidly. "I got to the point where I was a steady player and I was just very pleased to be playing the game."
Dawkins never made the roster for the Major Soccer League All-Star game. But Thursday, he'll be the first former MSL starter to coach in it.
The 46-year-old Englishman will coach the East against fellow countryman and West coach Ron Newman, who has coached in six previous All-Star games, winning four of them.
"It's nice to be the first of anything," Dawkins says. "I'm glad to be here."
When Dawkins was growing up in England, outdoor soccer was his game. He played 10 years for West Ham United and Crystal Palace in the English First Division.
In 1980, then-Cleveland Force coach Eddie McCreadie asked him to play indoors, opening a new world.
"I know my first thoughts were that the game was a bit strange," Dawkins says. "Eddie told me players played for two minutes and then came off the field. Outdoors, we started and finished the game."
When the season started, Dawkins reassessed McCreadie's two-minute shifts.
"After the first game, I thought Eddie was way off," Dawkins recalls, smiling. "The shifts should have been one-and-a-half minutes, not two. Outdoor fitness didn't translate to the indoor game. I thought I was a decent player, but the physical side wasn't there until six weeks into the season."
It may have been a rugged start, but Dawkins played four strong seasons (1980-84) with Cleveland.
Thursday's All-Star Game at the Baltimore Arena will pit a veteran powerhouse in the West against Dawkins' young East squad.
"I think this should be one of the better All-Star games," Dawkins says. "There is a lot of speed for the transition game and with the smaller Baltimore Arena, I think it could be very high scoring. I think it's going to be fun."