Stoke City: Ex-Potter Phil Rawlins' dream to take Orlando City to the big time
SO what was it about Florida that first attracted Phil Rawlins to its wall-to-wall sunshine, beautiful coastline, world famous theme park and generous standard of living?
Take your pick. Either way, it's easy to see why the exiled Potter is enjoying life so much in the States that he will probably see out his days here.
Not that it's all cocktails by the poolside for a man still with a share in Stoke City, but now with a mission to fulfil at Orlando City as joint owner of the "soccer" newcomers.
Two years ago his club was Austin Aztex in Texas, but such is the American way that he transferred the franchise to Orlando to revive football in that part of the world instead.
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Success has quickly followed with fellow Potter Adrian Heath as coach, but winning entry to the coveted MLS (the US Premier League) remains his American dream.
"We're very much on course," says Rawlins. "We have a project, a vision, to bring MLS football to this corner of Florida and we are well on track to do that.
"We won our regular season title last year and now we've just won it again. And off the field, our fan base is up 15 per cent and our sponsorship is up 60 per cent. So hopefully, we will be in the MLS in the next two to three years.
"We play directly below the MLS, but promotion and relegation isn't quite like in England.
"You have to buy your way in with a franchise, but that doesn't mean moving from Orlando because the MLS want teams in this part of the States."
If only the Premier League had taken that view of the Potteries well before 2008.
His heart remains with Stoke City, of course, and no-one was prouder to see them finally accept an invitation to play Orlando in front of 10,000 in a friendly at the weekend.
But it's here at Orlando City that he now enjoys a truly hands-on-approach in the running of a football club.
"This is my work, 24/7, and for me it would be a huge triumph if we were to succeed here. It will be great for all of us to do something for the region.
"This city deserves a second major league sport. At the moment there is only the Orlando Magic basketball team, no American football, baseball or ice hockey.
"Within 45 minutes of here you have 3.7m people and it's growing at twice the national average. It's a young, vibrant city and we have proper fans who get the game.
"It's a great place to live, with easy access to Europe. It's only a seven-and-a-half hour flight to Manchester.
"It's great weather. In some respects, you've come at the worst time of year because it is so hot at the moment."
And there is room for two footballing loves in his life, he insists, as he divides his emotions between clubs on both sides of the Pond.
"Stoke is my first love, a joint love," he explains. "I must have been supporting Stoke for 47 or 48 years. I was born a Stoke fan and I will die a Stoke fan.
"But it's great to have two loves."
And how he would love to eventually strengthen existing bonds between the two clubs by eventually exporting an Orlando player to the Britannia Stadium.
"We would love that to happen. We have a very young team and good, young players like Adama Mbengue, a Senegal winger, and Kevin Molino, a 21-year-old winger from Trinidad & Tobago."
With the Coates family pouring their money and energy into Stoke City, Rawlins is happy to remain a minority partner in the Potters.
His share in Stoke is now less than 10 per cent, but he says there is no intention to cash in on the club's recent success by selling up for a profit just yet.
"Peter (Coates) is always looking for input in terms of ideas and support. It has been great to have been a part of the triumph of the last few years.
" I do miss my regular dose of Stoke at three o'clock on a Saturday," he admits, "but I do get back to England quite often and you can see every game on TV over here, so I only missed two games last season."
And after a decade-and-a-half in the States already, there is every reason to assume he and his wife will remain at home on the warmer side of the Atlantic for the rest of his life.
"I think so now," he says with little hesitation. "Kay loves it and one of my sons, James, is at the club as a graphic designer as well."