UNIONDALE, N.Y. – Lakeland 2016 graduate Johnny Denis continued his climb up the soccer ranks earlier this summer, when he signed to play with the New York Cosmos of the National Independent Soccer Association (NISA).

“It means a great deal, and I am humbled to be given the opportunity to play for such a historical team in the U.S.,” Denis said. “Becoming a professional soccer player has been a dream of mine since I was 5 years old. This would not be possible without my coaches, and I mean all of them, and of course the support of my family. The journey was not easy, and looking back it has taught me so much. New York Cosmos in the soccer world carries huge merit. I am so thrilled to be a part of this organization.”

Denis can play many positions from center mid to winger, but he believes his best position is attacking midfield.

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He said he is thrilled to be part of a club with such a rich tradition, that goes back to the days when the Cosmos were a powerhouse in the North American Soccer League from 1970 to 1985.

“Not only is it a thrill, but an honor for me to prepare during practices and place my best effort, to cohesively work with my team to win games,” Denis said. “You fight in the moment to be recognized, throughout time. For the New York Cosmos, they will always be known for having one of the richest histories in American Futbol. To play on the team that once had players such as Pele, Bekenbauer, and Raul, wearing its jersey is surreal. As a player, it’s my responsibility to continue to do my best, on and off the field, to continue the tradition, that made this team, so special within the soccer world.”

Denis said his goals, alongside his work ethic, is to continue to develop and to get better every single day.

“I am here for whatever the team needs,” Denis said. “In playing for the Cosmos, the expectation is to win, no matter who the opponent is. For this year, I hope we dominate and I can help the team, however my coaches see fit.”

Denis feels that the Cosmos deserve to continue to be recognized and respected within the United States. 

“There are many great players and coaches that, given the opportunity to compete, can develop a greater fan base to promote the team,” Denis said. “My hope is that Mr. Rocco Commisso (Cosmos’ owner) succeeds in giving the Cosmos, the recognition and importance the franchise deserves in American soccer. He is passionate about the game, and he can only complement the future of the Cosmos. I am hopeful for the best of outcomes.”

Denis has had an array of experiences already in the game of soccer, including playing in 2018 for the Under 23 Red Bulls.

“My journey, as a whole, has helped me get to the place I am today,” Denis said. “Each team has taught me so much, from high school to academy and the national team.”

Before signing with the Cosmos, Denis played Division 1 soccer at Columbia University. He said his time at Columbia was one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences, thus far.

“Transitioning from a mindset that was mostly caring about soccer, to one that required that same attention for school, was not easy,” Denis said. “The soccer aspect was amazing, from the culture that was instilled on me as a freshman, to the things I learned on the field. I was afforded the opportunity to obtain a great education and meet mentors that have impacted my life. I established friendships with fellow teammates, coaches, and alumni that will always have a special place in my heart.”