Jonathan Spector has joined Atlanta United’s front office in what appears to be a newly created position as Head of International Player Recruitment and Development. Spector enjoyed a 16-year professional playing career — almost all of it with clubs in England — and was capped by the U.S. Men’s National Team 36 times.
“We’re thrilled that Jonathan’s decided to start the next phase of his career with Atlanta United and his overall expertise will be a significant addition for our club,” said Vice President and Technical Director Carlos Bocanegra in a press release. “As a player, he spent 14 seasons playing in England, including eight in the Premier League, which is a remarkable feat for any American. He also experienced some of the biggest matches in USMNT history and we’re extremely confident in his ability to make the transition into the front office side of business.”
Spector, 33, began his professional career with Manchester United, signing with the club in 2003. He made his first appearance with the club during the 2004 FA Community Shield against Arsenal and went on to make three appearances with two starts in league play as United finished third in the league. He also made an appearance against Fenerbahce in UEFA Champions League. Spector then went on loan to fellow Premier League side Charlton Athletic the following season and made 20 appearances with 13 starts while helping the club stay away from the relegation zone, finishing 13th. He stayed in the Premier League and permanently moved to West Ham ahead of the 2006-07 season, where he would go on to make 164 starts in 179 appearances across all competitions.
“I’m excited about the opportunity to work for a club as big as Atlanta United and I hope to contribute and build on the enormous success that this club has already achieved,” Spector said. “It was always a priority for me to return to the United States in a continued effort to grow the game and I couldn’t be happier to do it in Atlanta.”
On the international level, Spector made his debut at just 18-years-old on Nov. 17, 2004 in a World Cup Qualifier against Jamaica. He returned to the senior team in 2007 to help the USMNT win the Gold Cup, where they beat Mexico in the Final. Then in 2009, Spector was the starting right back throughout the calendar year, most notably helping the USMNT reach the Confederations Cup Final during a memorable run that included a 2-0 win over Spain in the semifinals. Spector was named to the 2010 FIFA World Cup team but did not feature.
The impact of Spector’s hire remains to be seen, and it’s unknown at this point whether he will spend most of his team at the team’s offices in Marietta or if his home base will be in England where he played the majority of his career. Considering where his experience in the sport resides geographically, it stand to reason that his signing could help facilitate moves for more European/English players.