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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 August, 2003, 09:49 GMT 10:49 UK
The rise of Freddy Adu
By Yaw Ampofo-Ankra
BBC Sport

Freddy Adu in action for the US Under-17 national team
Adu is tipped to become a global star
Freddy Kofi Adu has been leaving opponents breathless and coaches speechless since arriving in the United States from Ghana in 1998.

Such is the talent of the "kid with the magic feet" that he is already being touted as a football superstar despite being only 14 years old.

The naturalised American striker subsequently earned himself a million-dollar deal from sportswear giant Nike, and generated a level of media hype normally associated with the game's more established stars.

It has been a whirlwind experience for Freddy, who is expected to play a key role for the United States at the ongoing Fifa Under-17 championship in Finland.

Adu left his native Ghana at the tender age of eight after his mother Emelia won an immigrant visa in the Green Card Lottery.

But he told BBC Sport website that starting a new life in his adopted home was not at all easy.

He said: "When we got to the States, my mum had to work two jobs and often had to leave my brother and I alone at home."

However, things changed when his undoubted talent attracted the attention of the US Olympic Development Programme in 1998.

He is already being touted as a football superstar

He was given the opportunity to show off his skill at US Soccer Federation camps, geared towards identifying top youth prospects.

Freddy was subsequently chosen for a US regional select team and distinguished himself in a series of games against Italian youth sides in 1999 and 2000.

Serie A side Inter Milan were so impressed with his talent that they offered Freddy's family a six-figure package to oversee his development.

But their $700,000 deal was rejected by Freddy's mother, who insisted that her son was too young to be signing big-money contracts.

She wanted the youngster to continue with his education while pursuing his sporting career as a sideshow.

Offers continued to pour in from all manner of agents but Emelia stood firm in her response: No.

I've made my decision to play for the USA
Freddy Adu
On 5 March 2003, just three weeks after becoming an American citizen, he made his official US debut at the qualifying tournament for the Under-17 World championship.

Having set his sights on playing for the USA, Freddy says the chances of ever representing Ghana are very slim.

Once a footballer appears in a Fifa-sanctioned tournament as a citizen of one country he must continue to play for that nation in all Fifa events.

''I've made my decision to play for the USA but I hear Fifa has a new rule regarding the age within which you can choose to play for the country of your birth.

"So you never know what's going to happen."


SEE ALSO
Ghana's wonder-kid
07 Mar 03  |  African
Inter chase 12-year-old Ghanaian
28 Aug 01  |  Africa



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