When South Africa native Greg Joseph watched his first Super Bowl on television a few years after immigrating to the United States at age 7, he didn’t know what to make of it.

“I didn’t really understand what was going on,” said Joseph, who moved to South Florida with his family in 2001. “The one thought that everybody has that watches football for the first time is, ‘Why are they stopping so often?’ So I remember just thinking that.”

Joseph, who grew up playing soccer, is now well versed in football and the Super Bowl. In fact, in February he stood on the sidelines and watched his Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeat the Kansas City Chiefs 31-9 in Super Bowl LV.

Joseph was on the practice squad then. Then four days after the game, he was signed by the Vikings. Now, he’s the leading candidate to be Minnesota’s kicker for the 2021 season.

A month after Joseph was signed, the Vikings released Dan Bailey, the team’s kicker since 2018, shortly before he was due to have $1.8 million on his contract guaranteed. Bailey, after a strong 2019 and a good start to 2020, faltered late last season, missing 10 kicks in the final five games.

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When the Vikings’ training camp gets underway on July 28, Joseph is expected to compete with Riley Patterson, who was signed in May as undrafted free agent out of Memphis. But Joseph, who has 16 NFL regular-season games of experience, is considered the favorite.

“I’m excited,” Joseph said. “I attack every day just as a competition, just trying to focus on myself and better myself and be the best human being and kicker possible that I can be.”

Joseph, who turns 27 in August, has had quite an odyssey since his 1994 birth in Johannesburg, South Africa. He didn’t play football until his senior season at American Heritage High School in Boca Delray, Fla., and attended Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton as a walk-on in 2013.

Joseph initially was cut from the Owls but eventually was brought back and later put on scholarship for his final two college seasons. He was undrafted in 2018, and has banged around the NFL ever since.

Joseph is now with his sixth team. He was Cleveland’s kicker for much of 2018, then got into two regular-season and three playoff games with Tennessee in 2019. He also was with Miami, Carolina and the Buccaneers, but never played in a game for those teams.

“It’s my journey,” Joseph said. “I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

Joseph is just the fourth native of South Africa to play in the NFL. The most prominent has been former star kicker Gary Anderson, who played in the NFL from 1982 to 2004, including a 1998-2002 stint with the Vikings.

Joseph’s family relocated to South Florida because they had several relatives there. Joseph has been back to South Africa only once, when he was 10.

“I don’t remember too much,” he said. “But I remember simple things like my house, my grandparents’ house, a couple of places we used to eat, my school and soccer field. … I fell in love with soccer there at a young age while playing a little rugby and cricket as well on the side. But soccer was my number one sport.”

It stayed that way when Joseph moved to United States, and he became a star center back in high school. He grew up a huge fan of Manchester United, and has continued to root for one of England’s most accomplished teams to this day.

Joseph didn’t follow the NFL much growing up in Florida. And he didn’t play play football until a coach noticed his kicking ability before his senior year in high school.

“Some of my buddies were kicking, so I had messed around kicking a football a little before,” Joseph said. “And the coach came out and asked if I wanted to get into it, try my hand at it.”

Coming out of high school, Joseph said he had opportunities to play soccer at Brown and Lehigh, but that was problematic without scholarship money. He decided his best bet was to stay close to home and go out for football at Florida Atlantic.

After failing to make the team as a freshman walk-on in 2013 because of what he said was a “numbers” game, Joseph said “(I) busted my butt and got a lot better” during the offseason. By the spring of 2014, the Owls had a new head coach in Charlie Partridge, and he liked what he saw in Joseph.

“The thing that I vividly remember was being surprised that he didn’t make the team (in 2013), but I didn’t fully know what their kicking situation was,” said Partridge, now the defensive line coach at the University of Pittsburgh. “He showed quickly that he was a legitimate Division I kicker with his leg strength and his mental strength.”

Joseph became the Owls’ kicker in 2014, and held the job for four straight seasons. He was put on scholarship in 2016, which turned out to be Partridge’s last year at the school.

“He got stronger and he developed physically,” Partridge said of Joseph’s continued improvement. “I did think he had the potential (to be an NFL kicker) because I’ve been fortunate to be around guys who have had time in the NFL. I thought his leg talent and his mentality were every bit as strong as some of the other guys in the NFL.”

In four seasons with the Owls, Joseph made 57 of 82 field-goal attempts, with a long of 54 yards, and 165 of 170 extra points. That was good enough for the Dolphins, who play about 30 miles south of Florida Atlantic, to bring him in as an undrafted rookie.

Joseph was cut by Miami just before the start of the regular season, but he signed with Cleveland before the third game of that season to replace a struggling Zane Gonzalez. At his Browns workout, Charley Hughlett was the long snapper and punter Britton Colquitt, who is now the Vikings’ punter and holder, did the holding.

“At his workout, you could see right away the power in his leg was the first thing that stood out,” Hughlett said. “And as we worked with him, you could see the confidence was there, too.”

In 14 games with the Browns in 2018, Joseph made 17 of 20 field goals, with a long of 51 yards, and 25 of 29 extra points. But Cleveland selected Austin Seibert in the fifth round of the 2019 draft, and he beat out Joseph.

“We ended up drafting a kicker, and that’s real tough to make it when you draft a guy,” Hughlett said. “But (Joseph’s) a great kicker. Sometimes it’s just a matter of being in the right place at the right time.”

Joseph spent part of 2019 on Carolina’s practice squad, then got into two late-season games with Tennessee, making all nine of his extra points but not attempting a field goal. He kicked in all three of the team’s playoff games, making all nine of his extra-point attempts and his only field-goal attempt. But he was cut before the start of 2020 in favor of Stephen Gostkowski, and he moved to to Tampa Bay’s practice squad.

Joseph insisted it hasn’t been frustrating making so many NFL stops without sticking with a team.

“If you would have told me three years ago that this would be my journey, I wouldn’t do anything to change it,” he said. “I’ve learned a lot since coming out of college, and I believe I’m still getting better and better, and I’m excited for that. So I’m just utilizing all that information and technique changes, strength changes, etcetera, to help me be a better kicker.”

Joseph said he’s “ecstatic to be back with” Colquitt as his holder. And special-teams coordinator Ryan Ficken liked what he saw from the kicker during spring drills.

“He’s a true professional, he works hard at his craft, he knows what he needs to work on, what he’s really good at,” Ficken said. “It’s been great to work with him and see him really kick in person.”

To make the team, though, Joseph will have to win over Mike Zimmer. Whoever wins the job will be Zimmer’s fifth kicker since he took over as Vikings head coach in 2014. He previously had Blair Walsh, Kai Forbath and Daniel Carlson in addition to Bailey.

With the Vikings struggling in 2020 on numerous aspects of special teams, Zimmer said they have put “a major, major emphasis on trying to improve that area.” Joseph will try to do his part to help.

“I’m excited to be a part of this organization,” Joseph said. “Everyone I spoke to (before signing) had only good things to say about being here. … Just to have an opportunity to compete and make the team was good enough for me.”