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Tuesday, July 9, 2024

On the Highway With Landon Donovan, U.S. Soccer’s Final Highway Warrior

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Donovan as an 18-year-old with Bayer Leverkusen.

Sandra Behne/Getty Photos

Frosted Flakes, was that as a result of they have been one thing you can discover in Germany that was American and acquainted?

Yeah, precisely. They have been referred to as Frosties. I’d go to the shop, and many of the stuff, you may’t learn something. You do not know what it’s. You do not know what you are getting. However you see Frosties and also you’d see Tony the Tiger on the blue field. You are like, “I do know that!”

Then in 2002, you went to the World Cup in Korea, and you are still super-duper younger. I think about that felt like much more of a special world than Germany did. Is that correct?

Oh, Korea was loopy. I realized loads about cultural variations in Germany, for positive, however Korea is sort of a shock to the system if you do not know what to anticipate. We have been in Seoul. There’s so many individuals. Of their day by day life, individuals are very—the way in which their tradition works is they’re very pushy. They’re simply sort of like, Okay, get out of my approach. I am subsequent. I am subsequent. They simply sort of go, go, go.

You begin to understand that is simply the way in which the tradition is. It isn’t good or dangerous, it simply is. It is why I inform people who the perfect factor you are able to do in your life is journey, since you would do not know until you get out and journey. It was such a fantastic expertise. The meals was so distinctive and attention-grabbing—some good, some dangerous—but it surely was a fantastic expertise.

In that World Cup, after the Portugal recreation [Note: the U.S. pulled off a huge upset, beating Portugal 3-2 in the group stage], was it sort of exhausting for you as a 20-year-old to maintain the ego in examine? I’ve to think about you have been most likely feeling like the person after that.

I am making an attempt to suppose again. I’d say, not till after the entire event. As a result of through the event, you are simply so targeted on the subsequent day, the subsequent day, the subsequent day. What you are doing, subsequent coaching, go to the health club. I used to be simply reveling in it, to be sincere. Definitely after I bought house is when the ego wanted some checking.

Did you come again to a kind of hero’s welcome?

Effectively, initially, soccer wasn’t fairly as massive then. Second of all, there was no social media, so it wasn’t loopy. However after I would go to soccer stadiums after that, after we would journey to play the [LA] Galaxy or Columbus [Crew], then I’d see how folks cared. I do bear in mind being in an airport after that—not after I first flew again, however through the season on my own doing one thing—and a few random individual observed me and mentioned hello. That was the primary time I would ever been acknowledged in my life. “Enormous fan. I actually beloved watching you within the World Cup.” I used to be like, Oh, wow. Individuals are truly watching soccer right here!

Extraordinarily. Once I’m round folks I do know, care about, belief, I am truly fairly the alternative. I am fairly extroverted. My therapist at all times used to name me the reluctant celebrity, as a result of I did not need any of it, but it surely was simply there and I needed to discover a option to handle it appropriately. It was by no means one thing—and to today—it isn’t one thing I take pleasure in. I am simply enjoying as a result of I like to play and I get to make a residing at it. However all the opposite stuff? I might have carried out with out.

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