Monday, July 5, 2010

US Striker Altidore: Soccer Fun, but "Not For Me"

USA Striker Jozy Altidore, fresh off his country's heartbreaking extra-time defeat by Ghana in the last 16 of the World Cup, admitted that while he found soccer a "fun challenge," it was ultimately not something he felt he would continue to pursue.

"I had a lot of fun trying to play soccer," he said. "It was great of the US team and Federation to invite me to play, all because I tried out for that team in England and made it. Soccer is so challenging and great exercise too, and I had a blast in South Africa, really. But I think it's time to move on to things I have a better chance of being able to do."

US coach Bob Bradley said he understood Altidore's decision. "Jozy is a great kid, the kind who can do anything he puts his mind to. Maybe not soccer, because the ability to control a ball and run with it, shoot and pass, that kind of stuff, is really hard. If he stuck with it I'm sure he would improve, but Jozy's a very curious person. He'll probably want to dabble in other things, reaching a superficial level of competence before moving on again."

Though Jozy said it was "bittersweet" to end his time playing soccer for the US National Team, he said the memories and friends he made in South Africa will last a lifetime.

"During the England game, I was talking to Emile Heskey, and we agreed that even though the stadiums and crowds were great and really exciting, this game is just too hard. After the game we traded shirts and now we chat a lot on AIM."