Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySoccer World DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America ClassifiedsGame Report
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

TAGS:  columbus crew, mls


[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



Recent Soccer America Daily
Klinsmann's ace in the hole: U.S. record vs. Mexico    
For all the criticism of Jurgen Klinsmann, the U.S. national team coach does have quite a ...
MLS: Lots at stake in Wednesday's games    
There's an abbreviated MLS schedule this week for the FIFA international window with two games on ...
Concacaf Olympic Qualifying: Day 5    
Canada, which has not qualified for the Olympic men's soccer tournament since 1984, moved into Saturday's ...
Three Takeaways from USA-Panama Olympic qualifier    
The USA had already clinched first place in Group A of the Concacaf Olympic qualifying tournament ...
TV Report: NWSL viewers up for final, down for season    
The NWSL final won by FC Kansas City over regular-season champion Seattle averaged 167,000 viewers, the ...
Landon Donovan wants Klinsmann to be held accountable    
The conventional wisdom is that Jurgen Klinsmann's job is not on the line if the USA ...
Offseason: NWSL Thorns send five players on loan overseas    
The Portland Thorns loaned defenders Steph Catley (Melbourne City FC), Kendall Johnson (Western Sydney Wanderers) and ...
What They're Saying: Michael Bradley    
"Certainly when you talk about the United States in a bigger way, one of the beautiful ...
Video Pick: Brazilian mascot loses his head     
O Vovo ("Grandpa"), the mascot of Brazilian second division club Ceara, apparently doesn't get that his ...
What They're Saying: Landon Donovan    
"Jurgen said many times he wants our players to feel pressure. ... Well, the same holds ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives