Talking shop with Landon Donovan
Landon Donovan sits down with Janice Trecker to discuss the finer points of his game, who he admires and the importance of having fun.
Q: Please describe your position.
LD: I usually play as a forward or an attacking midfielder. Basically, my job is to create dangerous scoring opportunities for my team and to score as well.
Q: One of your notable skills is your ability with aerial passes, with chipping the ball to teammates. Can that be improved?
LD: Yes, it's pretty simple. You practice different distances, 10, 15, 20 yards with a teammate. You hit a lot of long balls and try to put them right on his foot. I did that a million times growing up.
Q: You're playing professionally and with the national team, but other young players are also moving up, perhaps to their varsity team or to a college squad. Have you any advice for them?
LD: As far as fitting in, anytime you come into a team, all that's asked of you is to work hard and do the little things for your team. If you do that, nobody can criticize you.
Q: What are those "little things" at your position?
LD: A lot of people don't notice that strikers have to do defense as well. If you're not pressing the opposite team's defenders, you're not helping your team. You can't be standing around. At the higher levels, work ethic has to match the talent level.
Q: Did you have a weakness in your own game which you had to work to overcome?
LD: My defensive play. Defensive work isn't something I enjoyed. It's mostly mental attitude. My work ethic was not always there defensively. I also worked on being more physical and handling more physical play because I'm not the biggest guy. A lot [of preparation] is working on strengthening and conditioning, also getting in position and being smart [about positioning].
Q: Do you have a player you particularly admire?
LD: "Growing up, I liked Roberto Baggio [Italy]. He was a goal scorer, but he could really play the game, not just score. He was a playmaker as well as a scorer."
Q: So you always had ambitions to be a midfielder as well as a striker?
LD: I always wanted to finish well, and also to play the [whole] game. Some scorers that's all they can do.
Q: Do you have some advice for young players coming up?
LD: I always say have fun and enjoy the game, if you're not enjoying soccer, don't play.
© RMG3 2002
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