The sport Patrick Burd ’18 loved as a kid and played for four years at Seton Hall is taking him to England and a professional career overseas. But his work in the world of soccer won’t happen on the field. Instead he will use his extensive knowledge of soccer cleats as he continues to make a name for himself in the sports business world.
As a high school student in Hillsborough, New Jersey, Burd started buying and selling vintage soccer shoes. That hobby turned into an online company called Classic Soccer Cleats, which Burd operated while at Seton Hall, managing everything about the business while juggling schoolwork and his time as a four-year starter on the Seton Hall soccer team.
With about half of his business being done internationally, Burd might find himself on the phone at 3 a.m., perhaps to China, conducting sales. “I don’t consider it work,” he says. “I love doing it. It’s not really a job to me.”
Now it is his career. Classic Football Shirts, a company in Manchester, England, hired Burd to manage its soccer cleat department. “I’ll be improving it, trying to develop pricing, finding new inventory, training people with my expertise,” he says. Burd had previous interactions with the company and over spring break in 2018 he went to London, messaged one of the owners and asked about plans for the soccer cleat department. On a subsequent trip to Manchester, the company offered Burd a job on the spot, which he later accepted after some negotiations.
This success doesn’t surprise Associate Professor of Management Pamela Adams, who taught Burd in her entrepreneurial classes and co-authored a case study with him about the history of Classic Soccer Cleats. “He’s very modest. He’s very organized with his time and very disciplined,” Adams says. “He downplays what he’s done, but he has really built up a reputation for himself and his expertise.”
That expertise emerged from his love of his product. Collectors and fans flock to vintage soccer cleats, and Burd was no different from his customers. “The nostalgic value is a big driver for a lot of people,” he says. “For example, cleats that are associated with the World Cup,” like the ones David Beckham sported when he scored in the 2002 event. Or customers are looking for the type of cleats they wore when they ran up and down the field as a kid.
Classic Soccer Cleats became something of a family business. Burd paid his younger brother to package the shoes back home, and his mom dropped them off at the post office. Back on campus, Adams helped Burd develop a business plan and “she did teach me a lot about how to organize it, how to break it down, what I want for my future,” Burd says.
Burd displayed a deft entrepreneurial touch at Seton Hall, winning third place and $3,000 at Pirates Pitch, an event where students present their businesses to a panel of judges that includes entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.
But as Burd — a double major in marketing and management — begins his new job in England, his days leading his own company will end to avoid conflicting with his employer. The Classic Soccer Cleats website will get redirected to the Classic Football Shirts site, and his Instagram account will also merge. Burd can sell his remaining inventory through the company’s website for a commission, and Classic Football Shirts will also ship it overseas. He’ll also earn commission on any sales from previous clients, the people who have been with him for years.
Still, Burd realizes what he’s giving up. “It kind of hit me when I agreed on a deal and I had to sign a contract,” he says, “that this has been my life’s work essentially for about five years. What I poured my heart and soul into and what I’m most proud of in my life, to be honest.”
So Classic Soccer Cleats will be no more. But fortunately for his new employers, they now have the drive and expertise of the man who started it — and turned a hobby into a career.
Shawn Fury is an author in New York City.