Seb Hines Feature

On Loan from Middlesbrough, Seb Hines Playing For A Future In Orlando

Sebastian “Seb” Hines was born May 29, 1988 in Wetherby, England, a small market town near Leeds.  For young Seb, playing soccer was never a question.  “It was the main sport growing up.  All my friends played it and I just jumped on it.”  

Hines’ father, a North Carolina native, was a novice when it came to the sport of soccer but nonetheless supported his English-born son.  “With my dad being American and all it obviously wasn’t his first sport but he encouraged me to buckle down and have a hobby to focus on.”  Hines’ hobby would soon become his profession.

Hines began his soccer playing career with Sunday league side Kirk Deighton Rangers in nearby Harrogate.  In 2003, Hines was scouted by Middlesbrough F.C.  The scout was impressed by the 15-year-old defender and he soon went on trial for the Premiership club which led to a spot in their academy.  “I got picked up, scouted by Middlesbrough,” Hines explains, “And then from there it was trials and made the academy.”

Hines joined the club at a very successful point in their history.  In the 2003-04 season ‘Boro won the Carling Cup, the club’s first trophy since the 1994-95 season when they won the First Division, the second level of English soccer.  It was a great learning experience for young Hines.  “Growing up at Middlesbrough, we were in the Premiership and we had some very, very good players.  We had come off the back of winning the Carling Cup which is massive for a team like Middlesbrough.”

In 2007 at 18 years of age, Hines made his debut for the first team at left back in an FA Cup replay against Hull City.  Hines credits the high quality of the senior team players for his quick ascend to the first team.  “We had players like Mendieta and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, players of really high caliber so for me it was just learning and taking on board what I need to do to reach the first team.”

Having represented England at the U16, U17, and U19 level and making his Premiership debut at age 18, expectations were high for Hines.  Unfortunately injuries hampered the young player’s progress which he describes as self-inflicted.  “I play hard and in my younger career I put myself in some vulnerable positions to get injured.”  But he maintains that he’s learned from those experiences.  “Now I’ve got experience and I’m doing my best to condition my body and doing my best to stay on the field as long as possible.”

Heading into the 2015 season, Orlando City was looking for an experienced center back and turned their attention to England.  But even before the Lions came calling, Hines had aspirations to play in MLS.  “I was always aware of it (MLS) with my dad and a couple of players that had played over there.  So it was definitely something that, in the back of my mind, I always wanted to do.”

When the opportunity to move abroad came, Hines went to a former teammate for advice.  MLS veteran and current Columbus Crew striker Kei Kamara was at Middlesbrough in 2013-14 and spoke highly of the league.  “He said it’s a great league and a growing league.  He said if I had the opportunity to do it (move to MLS) I should take it.”

So when Orlando City decided to bring Hines in on a six month loan with a team option to extend, he took Kamara’s advice and decided it was the right time to make the move.  “When the opportunity came across I thought it was the right time for me to take the trip over.”   It turned out to be a good decision for the center back who has become a regular starter for head coach Adrian Heath.  “I’ve enjoyed every moment of it.”

Upon arrival Hines was immediately impressed with the club and Heath’s playing style.  “You see the style of our play is very good.  We really play positive football.”  And the fact that there are so many new players in the squad has kept the 26-year-old at ease.  “Most of the players were new (to the club) and they’ve been in the same boat as me.  But I’ve been really impressed and I’m enjoying it.”

As for playing for Coach Heath, Hines says that he’s enjoyed his new boss.  “It’s good.  He’s hard on us when he needs to be and he expects the highest level.  It can only help the club and the players that he has.”

As for Hines’ future, he hopes he can remain in the City Beautiful.  “I’m here with a view of a permanent deal so hopefully I get that at the end of my contract (this summer).”  And what if Jürgen Klinsmann calls the U.S. national team eligible player?  “I’d be more than pleased to play for the U.S.”

As for now, Hines says he’s “focused on playing well and doing well for Orlando.  For me it’s just playing well for Orlando and taking every game as it comes.”  It’s been a successful move so far and hopefully Hines has found his home for the foreseeable future.