To mark the appearance he will be making for the United States in the final of the Gold Cup, Christian Pulisic is the latest player to talk us through the path he took to the top of the game, from growing up in a soccer family to his move to the Bundesliga, with an earlier short spell in the UK too…
The memory I have of starting to play the sport is in the basement of our house in Pennsylvania. I remember my dad would stand in goal. I had made up my own little goal and I would just shoot this mini-ball at my dad, and that is the first thing I remember, shooting it over and over. I was kind of into all sports, I was just like any American kid I think, I enjoyed everything but I kept coming back to soccer.
I played soccer from as young as I can remember, so I must have been pretty young when I started. Most people know about my dad having played professionally but my mum played as well to a pretty good level at college and it was an influence for sure. My dad’s last professional games were when I was a baby, that was his last season. I was alive but I don’t remember it. I have only seen tapes.
I remember playing kiddie kickers when I must have been five, but that was not what I would say was an organised team, but then I started with a team called PA Classics. I am not sure what the youngest age group is but I must have been about seven or eight. I actually did not play for my school back in the US when I was playing for a club team. The academy league was the place to play when I was that age to play for school.
My dad was my coach for a very long time but other than that, my coaches at PA Classics, I am still close to a lot of those guys. One is Steve Klein and another is called Alex, he was one of my favourite coaches when I was younger.
The training drill from back then I remember most was one called World Cup when you shout out your country of choice before you score, and people would choose the most random countries because it was fun. Dribbling with the ball was always a big part of my game, there was something about taking someone on which was a really good feeling. I did all the dribbling drills growing up but I think it was more just trying things out. I’ve always been an attacking player who likes any of the attacking positions.
I wish I could remember the time I lived in the UK when I was about seven better than I do but I remember playing for Brackley and I loved it, and every single day after school I would go to a court and play with these kids that I barely even knew but I would play every single day for hours.
I think I knew I was good at an early age but I specifically remember a year-17 team when we beat Brazil with the national team in a tournament. After that was when I truly felt I was going to take this game somewhere. I felt really confident.
Dortmund was the first professional environment I was in. I had been in an academy back in the US but it was a big step. I looked up the history and knew about Dortmund as a club and their trust in young players and I just felt it was great chance for me. I could not believe how fast I was able to make it there and they trusted me all the way so I was very pleased.
The United States take on Mexico in Chicago in the final of the Gold Cup, the tournament for nations from North and South America and the Caribbean, with kick-off at 8pm USA time. Pulisic scored twice in their semi-final against Jamaica.