Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySoccer World DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America Classifieds
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalkSoccer America ConfidentialYouth Soccer InsiderWorld Cup Watch
RSS FeedsArchivesManage SubscriptionsSubscribe
Order Current IssueSubscribeManage My SubscriptionRenew My SubscriptionGift Subscription
My AccountJoin Now
Tournament CalendarCamps & AcademiesSoccer GlossaryClassifieds
Hejduk, the surfer dude, settles down in Columbus
by Paul Kennedy, April 20th, 2012 12:38AM

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
Video Pick: Soccer meets 'Game of Thrones'     
Does Brek Shea look like Brienne of Tarth? Lionel Messi like Bran Stark? You can be ...
What They're Saying: Jozy Altidore    
"I want to apologize to our fans and my teammates. Emotion got the best of me ...
What They're Saying: Jurgen Klinsmann    
"He used some verbal words. I asked the ref, obviously -- I told the players at ...
ESPN2's MLS viewership hits low with Fire game    
For the second straight week, the Chicago Fire drew the lowest viewership for an MLS game ...
Sounders 2 forward Jones named USL Player of the Week    
Seattle Sounders Homegrown signing Darwin Jones was named the USL Player of the Week for the ...
TV Report: MLS adds to international presence    
After deals with Sky Sports (Britain) and Eurosport (Europe), Major League Soccer has signed agreements with ...
USA-Switzerland Player Ratings     
The USA tied Switzerland, 1-1, in Zurich on Tuesday. Coach Jurgen Klinsmann's team took a 1-0 ...
U.S. U-23s fall to Denmark's U-23s    
The U.S. under-23 national team finished with a split of its two games on its European ...
MLS Trade Central: NYCFC adds young Norwegian keeper    
Norwegian goalkeeper Eirik Johansen, who spent time with New York City FC in preseason, has been ...
What They're Saying: Eric Hansen    
"We were definitely looking for something that was much more athletic, much more kid-friendly. In the ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives