Join Now  | 
Home About Contact Us Privacy & Security Advertise
Soccer America Daily Soccer World Daily Special Edition Around The Net Soccer Business Insider College Soccer Reporter Youth Soccer Reporter Soccer on TV Soccer America Classifieds Game Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalk Soccer America Confidential Youth Soccer Insider World Cup Watch
RSS Feeds Archives Manage Subscriptions Subscribe
Order Current Issue Subscribe Manage My Subscription Renew My Subscription Gift Subscription
My Account Join Now
Tournament Calendar Camps & Academies Soccer Glossary Classifieds
Hejduk, the surfer dude, settles down in Columbus
by Paul Kennedy, April 20th, 2012 12:38AM
Subscribe to Soccer America Daily

MOST READ
TAGS:  columbus crew, mls

MOST COMMENTED

[MLS SPOTLIGHT] For Frankie Hejduk, who grew up surfing near his home in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, Calif., and was once identified as soccer's answer to Jeff Spicoli, the Sean Penn surfer dude in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” retiring to settle down in Columbus, Ohio, as the Crew's first "brand ambassador" might seem strange, but Hejduk has never been conventional.

Hejduk played his first three seasons with the Tampa Bay Mutiny and finished up with the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2011. But the rest of his pro career was spent far from the ocean. Sandwiched between them were four seasons in Europe (three with Bayer Leverkusen and one with St. Gallen in Switzerland) and eight with the Crew.

He earned his move to Europe from the Mutiny after his play at the 1998 World Cup, where he was one of the few positives for the USA.

Four years later, he showed his versatility, playing out of position at left back for the USA, which reached the quarterfinals of the 2002 World Cup.

He was picked for the 2006 team but was injured and could not play. He nonetheless traveled to Germany, where he decked himself out like any other U.S. supporter in an American flag.

While he played in Germany, the local press picked up on the fun-loving Hejduk who was featured riding a surfboard on a wave crashing over the edge of the Leverkusen stadium.

When he moved to Columbus, Hejduk and the Crew fans hit it off. While serving a suspension in 2008, he took the opportunity at a home game to spend time with some Columbus tail-gaters and even downed a beer to the chorus of "chug, chug, chug" (see video below). He said it was one of the best times he ever had at a soccer game.

"They made me feel like a king," Hejduk said.

Hejduk won one MLS Cup (2008) and three Supporters’ Shields (2004, 2008, 2009) in Columbus, where he was reunited with his college coach at UCLA, Sigi Schmid.

Schmid said Hejduk showed the same energy as a teenager playing in San Diego as he did when he came back from the knee injury that kept him out of a third World Cup.

But at 37, time caught up with Hejduk, who would have needed surgery to repair his ankle and a broken wrist.

Hejduk's retirement and that of Chivas USA keeper Zach Thornton leaves Ramiro Corrales as the only active player from MLS's launch season in 1996.

Hejduk pledges his allegiance to Columbus at a 2008 tailgate party:



1 comment
  1. Jack Aldridge
    commented on: April 20, 2012 at 1:06 p.m.
    Good to see characters like Hejduk in the MLS, it can only provide more fodder for the media and hopefully exposes the MLS to future fans.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Daily
What They're Saying: Joe Greenspan    
"Luckily, the higher ups in the Navy and the government made the decision to say we ...
Orlando City: Kaka has no plans of leaving    
Kaka says offseason reports out of Brazil that he'll leave Orlando City at the end of ...
Canada: Ten MLS players named for Bermuda friendly    
Toronto FC teammates Jonathan Osorio and Tosiant Ricketts lead a Canada squad that includes younger players ...
MLS Expansion: Tuesday is key day for stadium projects    
MLS expansion bidders are rushing to garner support for their stadium plans before the league's Jan. ...
MLS Business: MNUFC hits Target with jersey sponsor    
That famous bulls-eye known to shoppers around the country will be prominently displayed on an MLS ...
What They're Saying: Arsene Wenger    
"Offside is what makes the team be together. It's a big quality of a team sport. ...
MLS Moves: Galaxy uses TAM again on Joao Pedro    
In the space of just a few days, the Galaxy has completely revamped its midfield. After ...
Datebook: MLS preseason schedules    
MLS players will begin returning to their clubs as soon as Saturday. For the day-by-day preseason ...
Video Pick: Coaches make fools of themselves    
Honduras coach Jorge Luis Pinto and his Panama counterpart Bolillo Gomez fail the role-model test when ...
What They're Saying: Ryan Hollingshead    
"Originally when I hit the concrete I was like, 'I'm going to be out for years ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives