I was meant to be the next Michael Owen

Jason Severino Lampkin is from North Wales, and played in the youth system for Manchester United and Aston Villa before injury ended his professional career. He is now in the US, as Business Partnerships Manager for the freelancer platform Fiverr. You can find Jason on LinkedIn.

I was meant to be the next Michael Owen, I’m from his village. Growing up in North Wales is helpful in the Ryan Reynolds era where Americans want to know about Wrexham! I was following Michael Owen pretty well, but unfortunately, I had all his injuries before he did. A week before my 18th birthday I was playing for Aston Villa against Newcastle in the FA Youth Cup semi-final at Villa Park which was probably the biggest game of my career. I had been at Manchester United in the youth system before moving to Villa. In the match, we were 1-1 and I’d just been moved from right wing to up front, to hopefully score the winning goal. But instead of that I ended up tearing my ACL, MCL and both lateral and medial menisci in my right knee. It was a pretty big one and the doctors warned me I might never walk unassisted again. To hear that a week before your 18th birthday was not cool…

Most people spend their 18th birthday legless, which I did because I was on crutches. That was pretty rough. I had to come to terms with the grief of the injury, and knowing that I wasn’t going to go on, and achieve what my teammates did (one of my Villa team mates was Jack Grealish, who is a couple of years below me but played up due to his outstanding talent). Luckily, I don’t like Ferraris anyway!

My Plan B in the United States

Even after rehab, I knew I couldn’t have a Premier League career because my game was reliant on my pace – I was a Michael Owen type player. I felt my physical powers diminish. Plan B was then to come to the US to go to college. I went on a soccer scholarship to Long Island University which is a great sporting university and within a 30 minute train ride of NYC. I got a full ride so it ticked all boxes. It was cheaper for me to come over here to New York than stay in Wales and study there. I did my BA in business then I did an MBA, and graduated in 2017.

I had a great time at college. Alongside studying, I did a few internships in the City, and found a full-time role at Barry’s (a US boutique fitness studio chain) and then via Classpass, Freetrain and Fitnescity into Fiverr.


I possess immense resilience because of my injury. And I also believe my work rate sets me apart: it’s my super power. There’s a Gary Neville quote that I love: he doesn’t believe he’s talented, he thinks he’s hard working and that’s why he’s had the results he’s had. That comes from sport and how you set about chasing a goal. You bang a ball against a wall a thousand times with your right foot, to improve that one skill. That’s something that I don’t see replicated a lot in the business world; I think it’s a mindset unique to sport. I was in the academy at Manchester United, which is a lot like having a full-time job from 12 years old! Most teenagers are knocking around, going to parties, eating junk food; but young athletes like me have a regimented focus. You can’t switch off, and that becomes part of your DNA.

Finding a new focus

I am in business development and partnerships at Fiverr. A lot of athletes like to go into sales because they like the goal-orientated aspect. That’s something I enjoy. When you hit your targets it feels like you’ve smashed the ball into the back of the net: that’s why I enjoy it. But also, given my background is in a team sport, I enjoy building relationships with people. I do sales but I also help our partners to be successful on our platform. I’m working with other people to help them.

If I could give some advice to other sportspeople who had to face the tragedy that I did – a life-changing injury – I’d say that everyone is different and everyone will take time to adjust. Everyone’s got to figure it out for themselves. For me, it did take a long time to adjust to becoming a regular person. Every circumstance is unique. But I wasn’t the first, and I won’t be the last to have this kind of life changing injury.

You don’t want to be the person blaming the rest of your life on that unfortunate circumstance. It happened a week before my 18th birthday so if I wanted, I could be that drunk at the end of the bar blaming everything on my knee. But instead, I wanted that to be a person who went to New York, made a success of themselves, and although my football dream didn’t happen I can work on other dreams.