IN a city made famous by Disney, former Claret Martin Paterson is playing out his own fairytale in the MLS as he links up with one of the sport’s biggest superstars.

The 27-year-old could have been forgiven for wondering what the future held for him after suffering a hamstring injury three games into a loan spell with Fleetwood at the back end of 2014.


He had played just 10 minutes for parent club Huddersfield in three appearances off the bench this season, and the injury while playing for the Cod Army cut short a chance to play regular first-team football.

Fast forward two months and Paterson has swapped the dark, cold British winter for six months in Florida, joining Orlando City thanks to a connection with another ex-Claret, Adrian Heath, who is in charge of one of the newest MLS franchises, making their debut this season.

Striker Paterson has also been given the opportunity to link up with twice World Player of the Year and former Ballon d’Or winner Kaka, with the Brazilian superstar the ‘main man’ at Orlando City.

Paterson, who played over 150 games for Burnley, described the 32-year-old former AC Milan and Real Madrid star as a ‘lovely man’, and the two appear to have struck up an understanding on the pitch already.

Take this report from the club’s first pre-season friendly, a 4-0 rout of FC Dallas: ‘A dazzling exchange from Kaká to Molino to Paterson, ending with the striker finishing his own rebound.’ Paterson later won a penalty in that game, which was converted by Kaka, and it’s all a far cry from the way his season began for the Terriers.

“He’s the main player and the main man in the whole franchise,” Paterson said of his Brazilian team-mate.

“From what we can see at the moment he’s a lovely man, very warming to everybody.

“It’s a lot of responsibility on his shoulders because everyone is looking to him to always perform so everyone has to chip in around him and help him.

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“It’s a great honour to play with someone of his ability and what he’s done in the game,”

Paterson’s move to the MLS came about thanks to a connection between his agent and Heath, and when the offer was put to him the Northern Ireland international jumped at the chance to get some regular football under his belt.

“It was mentioned to me by my agent and to be honest moving to Orlando and the MLS franchise was a no-brainer,” he said. “There are some good players here but I’m looking forward to getting into the team and hopefully doing well here.

“The gaffer here was a very good player and he was from Stoke, so I knew of him before I came over here as a big name in our area because of what he did in the game. He scored a lot of goals so I can learn from him.”

Temperatures may be reaching the mid-20s there this month, but Paterson insists he is focused on business rather than enjoying a city famous for Walt Disney World Resort.

And he has set his sights of following in the footsteps of strikers such as Jermain Defoe, Robbie Keane and Bradley Wright-Phillips. Wright-Phillips top scored in the MLS last season, with Keane third, while Defoe’s goals earned him a move back to the Premier League.

“I’m here to work, I’m not here for a holiday or to put my feet up and enjoy the sun. I’ve seen bits of the city but to be honest I’ve been working hard on the football pitch,” said Paterson.

“I’m always looking for goals, I think all strikers are. There’s a few (British strikers) that have done well and fingers crossed things go well for me and it will be the same outcome.”

Paterson is far from alone at Orlando in terms of British players. The manager’s son, Harrison Heath, is in the squad as well as Lewis Neal, while Sean St Ledger and Seb Hines are both set to join in the coming days.

But it’s a diverse squad as well, and in an interview with the Lancashire Telegraph last year, Heath said he was scouring the South American market in a bid to get the squad ready for a first tilt at the MLS, having previously played in the USL Pro League. Despite the cavalcade of Brits, Paterson is determined to learn all he can from the various footballing cultures that have mixed together to create the Orlando City squad.

“There are no cliques here, everyone is as one, the English lads are obviously great, but so are the Americans, the Colombians, the Spanish,” he said.

“When you come through the building it’s all about Orlando City the team, there’s no groups of English all sat on one table, it’s just one big group, it’s great.

“There are a lot of different cultures and languages and different ways of playing, but it all adds to the team and it’s good.”

The MLS season doesn’t kick-off until the first weekend of March.

But thanks to pre-season friendlies and training camps, Paterson has already had a taste of the support that teams get Stateside, with football a sport on the up in America.

He has also been impressed with the quality of the facilities at Orlando, a club bankrolled by English businessman Phil Rawlins and Brazilian Flavio Augusto da Silva.

“We’ve got real hardcore fan groups, the supporters are fantastic, they don’t stop singing and chanting all the way through the game and that’s going to be important for us during the season,” Paterson said of Orlando’s support.

“There is a similarity (to British fan culture) but over here because of the mass numbers iIt’s quite an eye opener how many fans each club actually has.

“They’ve left no stone unturned in terms of the facilities, everything is bob on. It’s very professional and the manager and the coaches are very good.

“You have everything to help you here, the facilities are top notch.

“They’ve really committed to it and we think it’s going to be a big club.”