Clint Dempsey is the captain of the US Men’s National soccer team, which is only fitting, because he is one of the most decorated soccer players in US history.
The $4 million dollars English club team Fulham offered Major League Soccer (MLS) for his services in 2006 was the highest amount ever offered for an MLS player. Dempsey went on to score the most goals in the Premier League in franchise history, including becoming the first American player to score a hat-trick in the English Premier League.
In 2012, he was transferred to Tottenham Hotspur for $6 million dollars and made the highest salaried US soccer player of all-time. Dempsey has scored the fastest goal in World Cup qualifying history (53 seconds) and is one of only two American players (along with Brian McBride) to score goals in multiple World Cup tournaments.
We spoke to Clint about working with the Degree DO: MORE campaign, the World Cup and his career.
1. Talk about your partnership with Degree: DO MORE and how one lucky soccer fan can win a trip to Brazil in June to support you and the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team.
Degree is working with soccer and promoting the game. And also they’ve got the new deodorant now out with Degree Motion Sense technology where the more you move the more protection you get. The cool thing about it the campaign is, if you go to degreesoccer.com, a fan can win a trip to Brazil to join us at the World Cup this summer, so that will be exciting.
2. Does it feel different to score a goal in a league game compared to the World Cup?
Yes, because of the buildup and it’s such a difficult process to try to qualify for the World Cup. And when you’re there, you don’t know if you’re going to play three games or have the opportunity to play more. And then once you’re there, you advance out of the group, and then when you’re out of the group, then anything can happen and you got to the playoffs so you go farther and farther. You work so hard for four years leading up to three games, and you have to make the most of those three games, so that’s why you feel so much emotion when you do score and know the fans are behind the team, because you’ve waited for this moment for so long and you don’t know if you’ll ever get it again.
3. What does it feel like to be the captain of the American team?
One, it puts more pressure on me to try to will the team on. At the same time, there are a lot of players on the team that have played in World Cups, and will be ready for that challenge. We have a lot of leaders on this team; not just myself. Michael Bradley, Tim Howard and plenty of others that have that experience and really helped the team out in tough times. We’re a team that’s in good hands and we’re looking forward to the challenge, and I’m excited about that opportunity.
4. Is scoring a goal the hardest thing to do in sports?
At times, it feels like that, but other times, it feels like luck is on your side. It is a great feeling. For me growing up, whether I scored a touchdown or hit a home run, or scored a goal, scoring a goal is the greatest feeling to me. It gave me such a rush you want to keep doing it over and over again. That’s the reason I love the game. I love that it’s continuous, there aren’t that many stoppages, and scoring a goal is why I fell in love with it.
5. What kind of goal do you prefer: a long distance strike or up close via weaving thru opposing defenders?
The thing I like the most is when you score and it’s an important goal. Whether to tie the game in an important match or to give your team the go-ahead to help your team win. In a close game, and you know you’ve given your team an opportunity to win a big game. Those are the goals that mean the most; to be able to score on big occasions against big teams. It doesn’t matter how they go in, they all feel the same. It’s the best feeling. You feel like you can run through a brick wall.
6. You were the first American player to score a hat-trick in the English Premier League. Is that your career highlight?
What I look back on with the most pride is scoring my first goal in the World Cup. That’s what I dreamt about for years. At night when I would say my prayers, that’s what I would ask for. So, that’s the thing that stands out in my career. Playing in the World Cup, playing for my country and being able to score in an important game when we needed a goal and accomplishing a dream. Since then, I’ve scored a hundred goals and done other things, but to me that was the most special.
7. Who was your idol growing up?
Diego Maradona. Watching him play in 1986 World Cup and seeing him being able to lead his country and the way he played and how he could make such an impact… that’s someone I really looked up to.
8. What’s the biggest difference between fans in the UK and in the US?
Depending on what stadium you’re at, the fans are more in unison, everybody’s on the same page. And that’s something that takes time. The more history you have with the club, the more that everybody knows what’s going on, the theme song, and everybody on the same page. Also, the knowledge of everybody appreciating the game. Definitely the fans are getting more and more aware in the States, there’s more passion for it. We (Seattle) really have the top fans in the States. These are exciting times, because it’s come a long way from when I first started playing with the National Team. Because now when I play home games, I really do feel the home field advantage. And they really do help with your dominance during World Cup qualifying because they really get behind you. And it’s great to play in front of.
9. What’s it like playing for Fulham a second time? Especially as the highest goal scorer in franchise history?
It’s nice to come back, I’ve done a lot of cool things here that I’m very proud of. It’s tough times as well, because the team is kind of low in the table and I knew it was going to be difficult because the atmosphere was going to be stressful, but it’s great to be back here playing. I have a month left, so I’ll do the best that I can with the month that I have left to help the team, and I’m grateful for them giving me the opportunity to come back on loan.
10. What are your goals for next MLS season in Seattle with the Sounders?
We want to do like what the Seahawks did in the Super Bowl and win the MLS Cup. To do it for the city; that’s what everybody there wants to accomplish and work hard for.
Click here to enter the Degree: DO MORE contest for an all-expenses paid trip to Brazil to watch Clint and the US National Team in the World Cup.