Former USMNT player Gibbs has turned into up-and-coming agent landing kids in Bundesliga and more
The former MLS and Europe-based player spoke to CBS Sports about some of his top talents
Cory Gibbs hasn't had what anyone would consider a normal career path when it comes to sports. The 38-year-old former United States men's national team defender saw his successful professional career take him to Germany, the Netherlands and more, and despite retiring from the game in 2012, he's still heavily involved.
His current occupation isn't in television or coaching as it is for many former players. The Fort Lauderdale, Florida native has turned into an up-and-coming agent as part of Wasserman Media Group, rated No. 2 on Forbes' list of top sports agencies for 2018.
Now serving as the vice president of Wasserman's global soccer division, he's been involved in representing players since 2012. Gibbs represents USMNT legend DaMarcus Beasley, star midfielder Weston McKennie of Schalke, Zyen Jones of Schalke, Bayern Munich young defender Chris Richards and many more.
When he was playing, he didn't like what he saw when it came to the "client to agent" relationship, saying he had teammates of his in Europe and the States that barely knew the name of the company of their agent, some not even knowing their agent's last name. That sparked an interest inside of him to get into representing players and trying to bond with players on a more personal, friendly level instead of a purely business, cut-and-dried relationship. Having been represented by Wasserman as a player and having a great bond with Richard Motzkin, executive vice president of the soccer division, he got into representing players and has sent numerous players overseas.
He sat down with CBS Sports to discuss his move into representing players, how Weston McKennie was discovered and more:
CBS Sports: As an agent, what goes into finding a player you want to represent and what's the ultimate goal of that agent?
Cory Gibbs: Finding a player that I want to represent entails a lot of work, to be honest. There are a lot of variables that I consider. Most importantly, does the player have the ability to not only have a professional career, but foreseeably sustain it for a long period of time? Is he a top pro inside the locker room and off the pitch? Does he have the mentality to deal with the daily grind? Is he mentally strong enough to take positive criticism from me when trying to give feedback? My ultimate goal is to make sure that their expectations are beyond fulfilled and that I have given them a pathway to success, and only worry about the pitch and nothing else.
CBS Sports: Obviously, we've seen quite the rise for Weston since his move to Schalke. He is coming off his first goals, scoring winners in consecutive matches, including in the Champions League. What did you see in him as a young player?
Gibbs: I wouldn't have sent Weston to Schalke if I didn't think he was ready. What people don't know is that when Weston didn't make the U17 World Cup roster, and the kid was at one of the lowest points of his life with me right next to him, I took one look at him and said, "Wes, we are going to make it. So let's get it." And I told him "we" because I was in it with the kid. I have committed to him through thick and thin. It was a massive blow for him, but grounding him and getting him back to believing in himself was my ultimate goal.
Once I set that back in his spirit, the rest took over from there. His abilities rose to the ultimate level; Schalke saw him at the Dallas Cup and the rest took its course. Wes is not only a football player with special abilities, he understands the game faster than others. He knows when to play simple if needed, covers so much ground on the pitch, and has a personality that is hard to replicate.
CBS Sports: With players who dream of playing in Europe but you feel are better suited playing in MLS, how do you handle those cases?
Gibbs: I am very honest with my players. Not everyone is suited for Europe. Some have the ability but not the right mindset, and vice versa. If they don't want to take my advice, and going to Europe is their ultimate goal, then maybe the player isn't the right fit for me because I don't want to not meet his expectations. Listen, I don't get it right all the time, but I believe that my playing experiences in Europe, national team and MLS have given me a good gauge on where players might be best suited.
CBS Sports: When it comes to Weston on the USMNT, do you think he will be better suited playing in the central defensive midfield role or as a more box-to-box midfielder?
Gibbs: If you ask me where he is best suited today, I would say as a box-to-box midfielder role. He will give you the defensive press and creativity offensively as the No. 8, but once he begins to mature and gain more experience with club and country, he will be one of the top defensive midfielders in the world.
CBS Sports: What can you tell USMNT fans about Chris Richards? Obviously, he's a young guy that moved from the FC Dallas academy to Bayern Munich, where he played for the senior team in the International Champions Cup and has been training with the big boys lately.
Gibbs: When I first watched Chris play, I immediately saw him as a young, naive centerback with loads of potential to make it to the next level. Once I saw his abilities on the ball playing with both feet, and getting to know him better as a person, I then thought I need to represent this kid. The kid is strong, clever, plays with both feet, can break lines of defense with the pass or dribble, and is one of the most mature kids that I know for his age. Obviously FC Dallas and Bayern see the potential in him, but US Soccer fans need to know this kid has the potential to make it to the senior team. His experiences and mentoring from Robert Lewandowski, David Alaba, Jerome Boateng, Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben and others has opened up his game so much more.
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