Much Adu about Freddy

RYAN PYETTE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:35 AM ET

The 18-year-old pro soccer player had fame and hype surrounding him as a child prodigy, earns a healthy living doing what he loves and even dated pop star Jojo for a year.

That's a pretty good run for a youngster already in his fourth season of Major League Soccer, has switched teams in a trade and performs under intense scrutiny as the player anointed to lead the United States to future World Cup success.

For a player who has been the youngest pro to do everything on a pitch, Adu will be a grizzled veteran at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Canada. He captained the U.S. in qualifying and has already participated in the two previous U-20 tournaments for the Americans.

The event should hold special significance for Adu because Canada is the country against which he played his first game with the U.S. men's national team last year, replacing an injured player in the 81st minute of a friendly match.

That debut at age 16 didn't create half the debate that erupted when Adu joined D.C. United of the MLS and played his first game at age 14 years, 306 days. Adu scored his first goal two weeks later and finished the 2004 season, used mostly as a substitute, with five goals and three assists.

All the while, many onlookers wondered if Adu was too young to be involved in pro soccer and if the kid who grew up kicking it around with and against adults was physically and mentally mature enough to hold his own competing with men who played for a living.

After three years at D.C. United, Adu was dealt with keeper Nick Rimando to Real Salt Lake in Utah for goalie Jay Nolly and future considerations. At one point, the young star will have to make a critical decision -- whether to stay and help build the MLS or test his skills against the best in the world in the top pro circuits in Europe.

Adu has said he dreams of playing one day for Real Madrid.

11 UNITED STATES

FREDDY ADU

Born June 2, 1989, in Tema, Ghana ... Full name is Fredua Koranteng Adu ... Moved to Washington, D.C., at age eight after his mother won a green card lottery ... Was discovered by a local soccer coach and began playing several years above his age group while attending a private school in Potomac, Maryland ... Drew interest from Italian Serie A teams Lazio and Juventus after being named MVP of an under-14 tournament with the U.S. Olympic development program ... At age 12, turned down a six-figure offer from Inter Milan and joined U.S. soccer's full-time Under-17 residency program in Bradenton, Florida ... Made his Major League Soccer debut with D.C. United in 2004 and now plays for Real Salt Lake ... Will make his third appearance in the U-20 tourney (United Arab Emirates in 2003, Netherlands in 2005) ... Captain of the American squad.


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