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Channeling a Truncated Life: Noel Buck’s Drive to Honor

I will always remember the night Chelsea first emerged victorious — partly due to a small scar on his face.

At the age of six, he was watching the game with his father Steven, who inadvertently grazed his son’s face with his arm in the midst of celebrating Didier Drogba’s decisive penalty kick in 2012. Buck reminisces with a wide grin about that moment, alongside his equally passionate Chelsea-supporting brothers Charlie and Joe, in their Arlington, Massachusetts residence.

Although their father Steven relocated from Britain to the United States as an adult and settled in New England after meeting his wife, the boys’ upbringing was significantly influenced by their English heritage. Last year, Noel made his father proud by earning his first call-up to represent England Under-19s.

The recent 3-2 loss to the U.S. was a mixed experience for the 18-year-old midfielder, who currently plays for Revolution and has been earmarked as a potential future senior USMNT player by coach Gregg Berhalter.

“I was eagerly anticipating that match,” Buck reflects. “It’s always enjoyable to compete against familiar faces. I returned to training with the Revolution, and my American teammates playfully teased me, but it’s all in good fun.”

Tragically, their youngest sibling Charlie passed away at the age of nine in 2016 due to complications from a liver condition that made him susceptible to pneumonia. Noel and Joe keep Charlie close to their hearts, with his absence serving as a poignant reminder to Noel.

“He is a constant presence in my thoughts,” Noel shares. “He motivates me to move forward. Since he never had the opportunity to pursue his dreams, I strive to fulfill them on his behalf. Charlie would have been thrilled to witness my journey. He adored the sport, and I wish he could witness my progress because he would have wanted to know every detail.”

This profound loss has strengthened the bond within Buck’s family, particularly with his brother Joe, who also excels as a midfielder at Georgetown University. Their mutual support and shared love for Chelsea create a special connection between them, evident in their unwavering encouragement and attendance at each other’s games.

Despite his American accent occasionally drawing light-hearted teasing from his English teammates, Buck cherishes the camaraderie and banter within the team. While he has represented England in several matches, he acknowledges the significant growth of soccer in the U.S. and expresses contentment with his current position.

The emergence of his England Under-19 teammate at Manchester United and the national senior team further fuels Buck’s ambition. The exposure to top-tier players and experiences with the England squad continue to enhance his skills and broaden his horizons.

In MLS, the Revolution are undergoing a transitional phase under new manager Caleb Porter. Despite facing challenges on the field, Buck remains committed to his hometown club and is determined to contribute positively both on and off the pitch.

Reflecting on his childhood experiences and aspirations, Buck holds onto his dream of playing in England while focusing on his present football endeavors. Inspired by fellow Americans who have excelled in the Premier League, he remains motivated to reach the pinnacle of the sport.

As he navigates his dual cultural identity, Noel treasures memories of his transatlantic upbringing and looks forward to supporting both England and the USMNT in upcoming tournaments. His pride in representing England is matched by his father’s exuberant support, underscoring the blend of American upbringing and English heritage that defines his identity.