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How Christian Pulisic Became a Soccer Star for the English Premier League

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Christian Pulisic is a rarity in the world of soccer, or football as most of the world refers to the fast-paced foot sport. What makes him a rarity? He grew up in the United States and currently plays alongside international soccer stars such as Eden Hazard in the English Premier League for the London football club known as Chelsea. There have only been a handful of players that grew up in America and made it to the English Premier League, putting Pulisic in a rare category. How Christian Pulisic made it all the way to what is arguably the top soccer (football) league in the world is quite an interesting story. It is also an inspiration for his home country, which has recently embraced soccer with a passion.

Christian Pulisic playing soccer at age 9 for academy team PA Classics.

Christian Pulisic playing soccer at age 9 for academy team PA Classics.

Pulisic's Early Life Playing Soccer

Pulisic was literally born into soccer. Both his parents were soccer players for George Mason University. He started out his life in Hershey, Pennsylvania in 1998. His father was involved in professional soccer as a player, coach, and manager. He moved his family to England and Michigan for a time, where Christian played for local youth teams. Eventually, his family returned to their roots in Hershey and Christian wound up playing for a United States Soccer Development Academy club called PA Classics. As a teenager, he also did some training with a minor professional soccer club in the Hershey area known as the Harrisburg City Islanders.

Christian Pulisic dribbling a soccer ball downfield playing for Dortmund.

Christian Pulisic dribbling a soccer ball downfield playing for Dortmund.

How Pulisic Was Discovered By German Soccer Club Borussia Dortmund

Pulisic was discovered by a professional soccer club by being in the right place at the right time and impressing the right people. All of the hard soccer training and playing he had done over the years earned him a spot on the United States Men's National Soccer Team (USMNT) Under Seventeen (U17) squad. At the age of 15, he was playing a match with the USMNT U17 squad in Turkey. A group of scouts from a major-league German Soccer club called Borussia Dortmund watched the match in Turkey, being drawn to the match by a talented American forward named Haji Wright. The scouts came away from the match impressed by the play of midfielder Pulisic. In fact, they were more impressed with Pulisic than Wright and decided to pursue Pulisic to join their club in Germany rather than Wright.

Training and playing soccer in Germany meant leaving his friends and most of his family in Hershey and finishing high school in Germany with no guarantee that it would be a fruitful decision. Christian moved to Germany during the summer of 2014 with his father Mark with the hopes that Dortmund's interest would result in a contract to play with the club. Christian was 16 years old in February 2015 when Dortmund signed him and placed him on the U17 squad. By the summer of 2015, he was promoted to the U19 squad. His hard playing style, determination, and impressive goal scoring and assisting statistics wound up earning him a spot on the Dortmund's first team during the winter of 2016.

He made his debut in Germany's major soccer league (Bundesliga) on January 30, 2016, entering a game against FC Ingolstadt as a second-half substitute; a game Dortmund won two to zero. He quickly made his presence known in the Bundesliga by achieving the honor of being the youngest player to score two goals in Bundesliga games, when he scored the second goal of his rookie season on April 23, 2016.

He eventually became a starter or at times a go-to substitute for Dortmund, impressing supporters and opponents alike with his intensity and quick skill moves. During his time with the club, he has been involved in many scoring plays, including many assists and goals. Dortmund has been quite successful since he has played for them; topping the Bundesliga table during the winter of 2019.

Pulisic Signed By London's Club Chelsea

Pulsic's quick rise in Germany's Bundesliga had garnered a lot of attention throughout the world of soccer. For most of 2018, rumors were swirling that an English Premier League club would make an offer to sign him. On January 2, 2019, his move to the English Premier League was made official when London's well respected Chelsea Football Club announced they had reached a $73 million deal to pay Dortmund for Pulisic, which is a record amount for an American player. As part of the deal, he will remain with Dortmund on loan until the end of the 2018/2019 season. A move that is likely driven by the fact that Dortmund is leading the Bundesliga and needs to keep its winning team intact to make its best effort to finish first over their longtime better-funded rival FC Bayern Munich.

Pulisic's Career in the English Premier League

The 2019/2020 English Premier League season will be Pulisic's first opportunity to show Chelsea fans how he fits in on their squad. It's unclear what number Pulisic will wear on his Chelsea jersey. His Dortmund number is 22, while his U.S. National Team number is 10. Both of those numbers are taken on Chelsea. Number 26 on Chelsea is the only number available that Pulisic has any connection to, having worn 26 when playing for Dortmund's U19 team.

Pulisic is five feet and eight inches tall, which puts him in the same size category as the legendary soccer player Lionel Messi. Like Messi, Pulisic is a speedy winger that isn't afraid to take on opponents, makes skillful moves, and thinks fast on his feet to make scoring opportunities happen. He is also a great team player that often sets up his teammates with scoring chances.

He has made it big-time in the world of endorsements, notching a deal with Nike that will be financially rewarding for him for years to come. The Nike endorsement deal is undoubtedly the first of many, especially if he lives up to the expectations that he will be the best soccer player from the United States in recent memory. Companies eager to capitalize on the tremendous increase in soccer’s popularity in the United States will be looking to the homegrown star from Hershey, Pennsylvania to endorse their products.

Christian Pulisic taking a hard shot while playing for the U.S. Men's National  Soccer Team.

Christian Pulisic taking a hard shot while playing for the U.S. Men's National Soccer Team.

Fun Facts About Christian Pulisic

Here are some fun facts about Christian Pulisic life and how he made it to the professional soccer big leagues.

  • His father calls him by the nickname “Figo,” which comes from Christian's favorite soccer player when he was a young boy, a Portuguese player named Luís Figo that young Christian was thrilled to watch on television as he played for Real Madrid.
  • He joined the USMNT U17 residency program in Bradenton, Florida age at the age of 14.
  • He gained confidence as a player at age 15 when scored a goal and assisted in a goal in a USMNT U17 4 to 1 win against Brazil's Under-17 national team in the Nike International Friendlies event that took place in December 2013. He wound up winning Most Valuable Player (MVP) honors for the tournament, despite being one of the smaller players on the pitch. Based on news reports, he attributes his MVP performance against staunch competitor Brazil as the moment that he realized he could really make it in the world of soccer.
  • He scored two goals and assisted with one goal in a FIFA World Cup qualification match win on September 2, 2016, earning him the honor of being the youngest player to score in a World Cup qualifier match for the U.S., and the youngest player in U.S. Men's soccer history to score a brace (two goals in one game).
  • He is the youngest player from the United States to start in World Cup qualifier match when he took to the field with the USMNT starting 11 in a match against Trinidad and Tobago on September 6, 2016.
  • He was able to circumvent a FIFA rule that would have prevented him from playing for Dortmund for two years after he arrived in Germany. Because his grandfather was born in European Union member country Croatia, he was able to obtain a Croatian passport in January 2015, which gave him the green light to play for Dortmund twenty months before the FIFA limit.
  • He attended his senior prom in Hershey, Pennsylvania at the age of 17, then flew to Kansas City on a private jet to play with the USMNT the following day, scoring his first international goal against Bolivia.
Christian Pulisic attending his senior prom in Hershey, Pennsylvania with his date at his side.

Christian Pulisic attending his senior prom in Hershey, Pennsylvania with his date at his side.

Interest In English Premier League

Questions & Answers

Question: How did Christian Pulisic become a great footballer?

Answer: Some was genetics. He’s fast and agile and his parents were soccer players. He also trained very hard and pushed himself to try to achieve higher levels as he grew older.

© 2019 John Coviello

Comments

Dianna Mendez on February 10, 2019:

Pulisic is such an interesting person. He started so young at this sport, clearly inspired by his father. It is always nice to read about such positive sports figures.

John Coviello (author) from New Jersey on January 28, 2019:

Not many Brits play professional sports in the U.S. Occasionally they’ll be a kicker on an American football team that’s from the UK. Also, major league soccer has some Brits involved, but most players are from the Americas.

Liz Westwood from UK on January 10, 2019:

Until I read your detailed article I had seen the name and assumed that he was Eastern European. I had no idea that Pulisic was American. You are right. Not many North Americans make it in the premier league. But then again there can't be many Brits playing American football or baseball.