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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 March, 2004, 12:24 GMT 13:24 UK
No shortage of advice for Adu
Ghanaian-born Freddy Adu
Ghanaian-born Freddy Adu is ready to make his debut in the US
With his Major League Soccer (MLS) debut looming, everyone has a piece of advice for teenage superstar Freddy Adu.

His mother, team mates, coach Peter Nowak, and even Pele, to whom he is being compared, have all offered guidance to the 14-year-old American prodigy who is due to make his much-anticipated professional debut on Saturday in front of a national television audience.

"I've looked up to Pele ever since I started playing this sport, I had to savour it," Adu said of the advice he had received from the Brazilian legend.

"He told me to just keep my head and play because a lot of people are going to demand a lot out of my time and want a piece of me."

I just want to go in and do what I need to do to help my team win
Freddy Adu

With the approach of the league season's opening match in Washington between Adu's team, D.C. United, and defending champions San Jose Earthquakes, the demands on the teenaged forward's time have increased.

He faces constant requests for interviews and photographs, promotional duties for his team and the MLS plus responsibilities to a growing stable of sponsors who include Nike and a soft-drinks company.

This week Adu, who will become the youngest professional player in modern American team sports history when he takes to the field against the Earthquakes, is being featured in Vanity Fair and Sports Illustrated magazines and will be profiled on a CBS television programme.

The player, whose family emigrated from Ghana seven years ago, is being hailed as the saviour of U.S soccer and lives with comparisons to the National Basketball Association's (NBA) newest teenage phenomenon LeBron James.

But if the burden and pressure of those expectations weigh heavily on Adu's slender shoulders they are undetectable in his voice as he excitedly looks forward to his first game in a United jersey.

"I guess we (James and Adu) are kind of in the same situation except I'm not making $90 million," said Adu, who will be the MLS's best-paid player, earning $500,000 in salary and bonuses.

One day when the time comes I would love to end up in England or Spain
Freddy Adu

"I don't really think of it like that. I just want to go in and do what I need to do to help my team win and to better myself as a player. Everything else will take care of itself.

"I'm not coming out here to become the saviour of American soccer. I've been waiting for this moment for the longest time and it's finally here.

"I'm not nervous, I'm just anxious; I'm anxious to get out there to play and have fun because when I'm on the field that's when I'm at my happiest."

While Adu has yet to play his first professional game he has already mapped out a career and, like every other teenager, he has dreams to be fulfilled.

Coveted by clubs on both sides of the Atlantic, Adu said he would eventually like to try his luck in one of the world's top leagues, playing in either England or Spain.

"I follow all the other leagues but I watch mostly the English and Spanish leagues. I primarily enjoy watching the English league because I think it is the most exciting in the world," said Adu.

"One day when the time comes I would love to end up in England or Spain, hopefully one day I could be playing for a team from there."


SEE ALSO
US call up Weah Jnr
01 Mar 04  |  African
Adu signs for DC United
19 Nov 03  |  African
US starlet drops Man Utd hint
03 Nov 03  |  World Football
Chelsea linked with 3m starlet
14 Sep 03  |  Chelsea



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