[AMERICANS ABROAD] American midfielder Sebastian Lletget celebrated his 18th birthday Friday by signing his first professional contract with English club West Ham United.
Lletget, a product of Santa Clara (Calif.) Sporting, has been training with West Ham on and off for several years but FIFA rules precluded him from signing a pro contract with the Hammers until now.
He played for the USA in Concacaf under-17 qualifying but didn't travel to the 2009 world championships.
He's also eligible to play for Italy or Argentina but says he wants to represent the USA.
"With my Italian heritage," Lletget told the West Ham web site, "Giuseppe Rossi is the player I look up to most because he has come from a similar background to me, and is also a similar type player. It's my aim to make a name for myself like he has. My heart is in America, though, so if the chance ever arose to play for the United States, I'd love that."
Lletget described himself as an attacking midfielder who plays in the hole.
"I love to play football and I think I have good vision, good ball control and I like to pass the ball," he said. "I think those are my strongest suits. I like to express myself. In the upcoming season, I really want to get established and comfortable and play for the reserves then maybe I'll get spotted by the manager. Now I have signed, I don't want to rush things and put extra pressure on myself. I'm just going to take it step-by-step, day-by-day."