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Young Soccer Prodigy Joins US Pro Team - 2003-11-19

Fourteen-year-old soccer sensation Freddie Adu has signed with Major League Soccer, becoming the youngest professional athlete to play on an American sports team in more than 100 years.

The teenage star has signed a six-year contract with Major League Soccer to play with the Washington, DC, soccer team, the DC United.

Soccer Commissioner Don Garber calls the deal a monumental moment in the history of soccer in the United States.

"It is with enormous pride and excitement that we announce today that Major League Soccer has reached a long term agreement with young Mr. Freddie Adu, one of the most accomplished young soccer players in the world," he said.

Freddie Adu and his family came to the United States from Ghana in 1997 and he was quickly recognized for his astonishing abilities on the playing field. Mr. Adu has been courted by soccer teams from around the world. He says the fact that joining DC United will allow him to live at home with his mother and brother was a major influence on his decision. At the news conference announcing his decision, Freddie Adu presented his mother, Emelia, with the pen he used to sign the deal. He credits his mother, who worked two jobs to support her sons, with his remarkable maturity and success.

"We have been through some tough times, Mom, and, hey, look, here is your son standing right here, staring back at you. I signed my first professional contract and it is all thanks to you," said Freddie Adu. "Thanks a lot, Mom. I love you."

In August, Mr. Adu led the United States squad to the Under 17 World Championships in Finland, where he was the second highest scorer. Earlier this year, he signed a $1 million endorsement contract with the sports-product company Nike. But Freddie Adu says he is just a regular kid - really.

I still do the same stuff that any 14-year old would do," he said. "I still have fun with my friends, play video games. I do not think of myself as being any different from anybody else aside from certain responsibilities that I have. Really, I am just a normal kid."

Mr. Adu says he hopes to some day play on the U.S. Olympic teams and in the World Cup. He will join DC United full-time after finishing a secondary school in Florida that is designed to educate and prepare young athletes for early professional careers.