Cheltenham Town: Where are they now? Michael D'Agostino
GLOBE-TROTTING former Cheltenham Town loan winger Michael D'Agostino is currently plying his trade in Germany.
The 25-year-old Canadian spent six months at Whaddon Road during the 2007/08 campaign, helping the Robins stave off relegation from League One for a second successive season.
He made 14 starts and 11 substitute appearances for Keith Downing's side after arriving from parent club Blackpool.
D'Agostino made his full debut in a 1-0 home victory over Port Vale, combining with Steve Gillespie to set up Paul Connor's goal and he kept his place in the side for a four-match winning streak in January 2008.
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But his overriding memory of time with Cheltenham was the dramatic 2-1 final day success against Doncaster Rovers that secured survival.
"To stay in League One was a huge accomplishment and was also a big credit to the lads and the coaching staff," D'Agostino said.
"I really enjoyed Keith's coaching and management style and think he did an excellent job. I also definitely made some great friends while there and they made the experience even that much more enjoyable.
"I learned a ton while on loan at Cheltenham. I had played in some big international games, as well as important ones in the National Collegiate Athletic Association, but I quickly learned that this was a whole new level.
"I learned a lot from the more experienced players like Alan Wright, Jerry Gill, Craig Armstrong and Alex Russell as well as the coaching staff. I fell in love with the atmosphere at the stadiums, and learned the amount of effort it took to be successful and craved it."
D'Agostino regards former Aston Villa left-back Wright as the best player he played with at Cheltenham and he has remained in contact with many of his former team-mates.
"Some of the lads like Spuggy (Armstrong), Will Puddy, Shane Duff and Sam Foley among others I speak to on a somewhat regular basis," he said. "I definitely miss the banter of England and the English game, that's for sure."
After leaving Cheltenham, D'Agostino returned to Blackpool, who had taken the option of a second year on his contract, but six months into it he moved to Hereford United.
He spent a frustrating half season at Edgar Street before moving to Italy, where he was offered a contract by a Serie C club, but he opted to join German fifth tier club Sportfreunde Siegen.
"I have been playing in Germany this past season with and have had a successful year, despite missing the last two months of the season through injury," he said.
"Life in Germany is good. I enjoy the culture and the way of life, although the language sometimes is very difficult. I have learned my fair share of it but it still gives me problems.
"The German lads are good and welcoming and love to try and speak English. "
D'Agostino has now been converted to an attacking right-back and he said there are major differences between football in Germany and England.
"The Germans are known for their efficiency and it definitely carries over to football," he said. "Training sessions are a lot more regimented and structured and the overall style of play is a lot more tactical than English football.
"The game here is a little more technical and consistent, however it is also a lot slower and less physical. "
Off the field, D'Agostino has started a company in his native Vancouver, the Vancouver Futbol Academy, which runs Futsal leagues and tournaments as well as coaching clinics.
He would love to return for another spell in England, where he has seen Blackpool go from strength to strength, with one season in the Premier League and a play-off final defeat by West Ham last season for Ian Holloway's team.
"I have been very pleased to see them do so well, especially with such a large number of the same players from when I was there playing such big roles," he said.
"I was extremely happy for my good friend Alex John-Baptiste and all of the other lads I know as well.
"It was also good to see Ash Eastham have a successful loan spell with the Robins, not to mention Big Ben Burgess doing his thing for Cheltenham as well.
"It seems that Ian Holloway has done wonders to the club since I left.
"I would love to come back and play in England and am currently looking to do so.
"I am not going to extend my contract in Germany, and getting back to England is one of my main targets."