DEBRECEN, Hungary — It’s been six years since former Brownsboro standout Damien Thompson played a game of organized football, and on Saturday he made his professional debut.
Thompson's debut was different than the traditional path: he flew across the country to Europe and stepped on the professional field Saturday as a Debrecen Gladiator.
"It was amazing when I walked on that field," Damien Thompson said. "I was really taking everything in because you know, I've been here for a month getting prepared and stuff. But walking on that field, it was just like wow, like I really did this you know what I'm saying? Like I really, I really really did this."
His story isn’t without setbacks. After playing collegiately at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, Thompson returned to Texas to work to feed his family.
"Everything wasn't working in my favor, wasn't nobody even looking in my direction. And people thought I should go, you know, just quit," said Thompson. "What they say 'Go get a real job, go get a real career,' you know, stuff like that. And I didn't let that get to me too much. I always knew that one day it would happen."
He began working out again and got an offer to play in a league in Florida but the onset of Covid-19 and the pandemic stopped that opportunity. But the halting in the Florida offer led him to become connected to the Hungarian league.
In his first game in six years, Thompson scored two touchdowns and forced a fumble.
"That game was just a surreal feeling. You know, that was something I've been waiting on since, really, since my last game in high school. I'm kind of getting emotional right now. But that was my first game I played in a minute and I'm just really glad that the bursting gladiators saw that in me from America and was able to bring me over here."
Damien hopes his story inspires others.
"I hope I can motivate someone back in East Texas to keep going, whatever you're doing man. Keep going."