Landon Donovan: Nice & Easy
By Alan Plum
AP:It's been a busy week for you, so we're going to stay away from the soccer questions as much as possible.
LD: "Oh really."
AP:We'll do our best, but firstů.. When did Landon Donovan know his destiny was to be a soccer star?
LD: "I don't know about destined to be a star, but I know that (playing soccer) is what I wanted to do ever since I was a kid. I realized, maybe it was some time in high school, that I had a gift for it and that there was something about it, something that drove me to want to succeed."
"It was always what I wanted to do. Obviously as things kept progressing I just took it more and more seriously."
AP:Was soccer always the sport? Was there another game you could have excelled at?
LD: "I played Tee Ball for one year, but that was it. I played for recreation and for fun, but it was never anything serious. Everything just channeled back to soccer."
AP:If not soccer, then what?
LD: I'd probably be in college, I would hope, my mom would hope. I'd be studying something to do with sports. Maybe management or physical therapy or even sports business, something like that."
AP: What do you do when you want to get away from soccer?
LD: "If given the possibility I just go home. I go to L.A. for the day and lay on the couch and do nothing. It's nice just to go home so I can be in familiar surroundings where I have nothing to do. I love having nothing to do."
AP:Was it the same in Germany?
LD:"In Germany it was different because there were times where, for whatever reason, I was just sick of being in the same place, or just frustrated, I'd just go out and drive. It was kind of the opposite, I'd just take my car and go drive somewhere."
AP:What part about being a professional soccer player gets 'old' real fast?
LD: "The hardest is the travel for sure. I'm not complaining, but people forget that there are a lot of demanding elements to being a soccer player. For instance, last week I played Saturday (at Dallas), flew to Germany Sunday, got there Monday, played Wednesday (in Rostock), came back on Thursday - across the Atlantic, played on Saturday (at Colorado), played a Wednesday game again (vs. Mexico) and then played against New England on Saturday. Five games in two weeks, plus a trip to Germany and back isn't easy."
AP:And you leave again for Ireland on Sunday right?
LD:"Yeah, the next two weeks aren't going to be much different."
AP:What part of Landon Donovan (the person) grew the most while you were in Germany?
LD: "Probably the realization of how important my family is to me as well as learning what I needed to be happy."
AP:What about since you've come back to the U.S.?
LD: "I don't know. Probably the most important thing is that I've just gotten back to being me. That's the change from the Germany Landon to the real Landon."
AP:Did the situation you were in keep you from being yourself?
LD: "It was hard. A lot of my expression comes through soccer and I think that's when people see the real me. When I'm playing and when I score a goal, that's me in a nutshell. I didn't really have that there or at least it was part of me that was missing."
AP:What aspect of German culture caught you completely off guard?
LD: "The first time I was in the grocery market they made me bag my own groceries. I was like 'What's going on with this?' I was sitting there waiting for somebody to do it and they were looking at me like I'm stupid. I finally figured it out, but that was different."
AP:What is your favorite German word?
LD: "It's probably not a word we want to use."
AP:What else is Landon Donovan good at?
LD: "Because of my parents, I'm a pretty good singer. Some people might debate that."
AP:Who would debate it the most?
LD:"Probably Joe (Cannon) my roommate."
AP:What do you sing the best?
LD:"Probably R&B, I can't sing the real alternative hard stuff."
AP:Okay, so Beatles or Wu-Tang Clan?
LD: "Wu-Tang, I am too young for the Beatles."
AP:When your playing days are done, does Landon Donovan make a better coach, broadcaster or administrator?
LD:"That's a good question. Since we're waiting here at the airport, I wish I was our Team Administrator - just kidding. I would say a coach off the top of my head, but maybe an administrator. I think coaching you see as a player, but administration you see as a player, so you know what you want as a player. But I think that broadcasting is a little bit different."
AP:What's your secret addiction?
LD: "Ice Cream totally. Cookies 'n cream and mint chip. Oh, and cereal. I eat cereal everyday."
AP:Are you taking notes for a book?
LD:"Definitely, mentally and on paper."
AP:So you have a book coming?
LD: "I am going to have a book someday for sure."
AP:Do you have a title all picked out?
LD: "The title is probably the last thing that comes when you write a book, but I think it would be something to the effect of "What the fan doesn't see" or "What people don't know."
AP:I said no soccer questions, but what was your best goal ever?
LD: "The more I look at the goal in MLS Cup last year against L.A., I guess it was pretty amazing. It happened so quickly and it was one of those things that was purely instinctive. It had nothing to with what I did or advance preparation. It just happened."
AP:Was that one of those times when people talk about seeing things in slow motion?
LD: "That was totally it. The ball came a lot faster than I expected. I just kinda swung my foot. I didn't even see it go in. I just glanced up and it was in. Once I saw the replay a couple times, I realized it was a pretty good strike."
AP:When Landon Donovan runs a soccer camp, what is the first thing kids learn?
LD: "This is hard to really do at a camp, but I would tell them to keep a ball with them everywhere they go, make it their best friend. I would do as much as possible with the ball. My club coach, Clint Greenwood, had us do everything with the ball. Everything was about touch. You can learn the tactical side of soccer later but technically that is why all of his players are so good."
AP:Do you ever have to remind yourself that you are only 20?
LD: "It's hard, you know? I get so caught up in things and I'm always with people five or ten years older than me, at least. It's hard to remember I'm still a kid. Playing video games take me back. I just remember playing when I was younger and that really helps."
AP:Do you have a favorite game?
LD: "FIFA 2002 is my favorite game, but my other favorite is a snowboarding game. It's called SSX Tricky. We play it all day, it's pretty sad."
AP:Do you really tear it up on the slopes?
LD: "Oh yeah. I like to snowboard. I'm not crazy though, I just go down the hill. I don't worry about getting hurt though."
AP:What about FIFA 2002 from EA Sports? Give us the expert's opinion.
LD: "Actually, that's ironic, I played it for the first time yesterday."
AP:Were you Landon Donovan?
LD: "I was. I was the Earthquakes. I was playing with my friend David and in the third minute of the game, I slide tackled him from behind and I got a red card. It was BS man. The game is awesome though, it's really great."
AP:That was the first time you every played?
LD:"That was THE first time I ever played FIFA 2002. It was supposed to be an awesome experience but I got the red card, I think its rigged."
AP:Do you trade yourself?
LD: "I'd never trade myself, I'm an Earthquake."
AP:What was it like to do the motion capture?
LD: "They put the sensors all over you, and they had me running around on this square patch of grass. I walked in after I did it and they had it all on the computer. You see yourself as a stick figure running around and its identical to your exact movements. It's unbelievable how they do it.'
AP:Was that an all day thing?
LD: "It was actually just an afternoon. It didn't take too long, I had to change and get all the sensors on me, but actually doing it just took a couple of minutes.
AP:So does every player in the game have your moves?
LD: "No, no, in this game, when you win the World Cup with the USA it shows you celebrating. They had me doing the celebration too, so when the U.S. wins, I do all the celebrating."
AP:Sounds like a good ending to me.
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