Showing posts with label United States. Show all posts
Showing posts with label United States. Show all posts

Friday, April 03, 2015

The Tragedy of Freddy Adu

Psychologists and fans of the late Michael Jackson would frequently refer to him as a "child in a man's body", whose life was nothing like that of a normal adult due to his upbringing and being famous the world over from his early years. His view of life would be completely skewed and in many circles would become as famous for scandals and eccentric living as his once-magnificent music career.

With another American landing on my radar in the last week, the comparisons between Freddy Adu and Michael Jackson seemed to scream at me throughout his interviews, along with the publicity generated by his signing for Kuopion Palloseura (KuPS). The widely-publicised press conference he gave on Thursday allowed him to give probably the same quotes as he'd given on signing for each of his previous ten clubs. Bear in mind, Freddy is just 25 years old.

Freddy in his new KuPS away jersey (photo by Juha Poutanen)

However, Freddy spoke to state broadcaster YLE afterwards and gave some moving quotes. When asked why he moved to Kuopio, his body language saddened, his smile remained as he replied "KuPS gave me a great opportunity to come here and just play football - that's something I haven't really had a chance to do in a long time, and I really missed it". Going back to 2004, Freddy said in an interview to Sports Illustrated ahead of his MLS debut (still aged 14), "I'm not always going to have the greatest game of my life. There's going to be games when I absolutely suck. That happens to everybody. So it'll be up to me to regroup and try to find a way to bounce back." This is a young man who has had a lot of media training from an early age.

New Pele and old Pele

Prior to last Saturday's announcement of his signing, he had previously been spotted apparently acting as a nightclub promoter in Washington DC, news which went around the world as a "where are they now" joke. Yet shortly afterwards, I spoke to a KuPS employee who said that Freddy just wanted to go somewhere away from the circus. I'm sure he was fully expecting his new clubs to suddenly become the talk of ESPN, while this very website had a large surge in traffic searching for information on KuPS and the Veikkausliiga.

Freddy said in the YLE interview that it wasn't about the money (it certainly wouldn't be a big factor in Finland), but was amazed to find that coach Marko Rajamäki actually spoke to him in English about his game and tactics. KuPS probably would be a nice place for him to get back into playing, they have signed a proven goalscorer in Irakli Sirbiladze to shoulder the scoring burden, while they certainly won't be expected to challenge for the title. A likely place in the first qualifying round of the Europa League could provide some excitement, with potential trips to Azerbaijan, Malta or Luxembourg.

Adu spoke passionately and with humility about having grown up, "learning things the hard way" and his joy about being asked his opinion on football. His eyes lit up at the thought of having some value in a European football dressing room. Plenty of journeyman footballers rock up in leagues over the world, claiming to be turning a corner. When asked about pressure, Freddy smiles and talks passionately about having nothing to lose, missing the day in, day out lifestyle of a footballer.

For a twenty-five year old footballer with seventeen international caps, it feels like Freddy's dream of representing the United States team at a World Cup is just a fantasy, something born in Neverland. After so many false dawns and cynicism at the speed in which KuPS jerseys bearing ADU 11 became available, it's easy to assume that this will just be another stop on the world tour. But with every Veikkausliiga match available to watch online and the slowly-increasing status of the league, there could be just enough in the season for the gawpers to think again.
Freddy on international duty in 2012

It's not the most Off The Wall thing to suggest. 2015 could be a Thriller.

You can see the original YLE interview (in English) here.