Freddy Adu is only 13, but he already has drawn attention around the world for his ability to play soccer.
Freddy's family came to this country in 1997 from Ghana, a country in Africa, and settled in the Potomac area. Freddy was quickly noticed by area coaches, played in tournaments in Europe and received a contract offer worth more than $100,000 from the Italian team Inter Milan. His family turned down the offer, and last year Freddy began training full-time with the U.S. under-17 national team in Bradenton, Florida.
Freddy is the youngest person to ever train with the team. He also shines in the classroom; he skipped a grade in middle school and entered high school early, attending The Heights for ninth grade before leaving for Florida.
Next month, Freddy's mom, Emilia, could become a U.S. citizen. That also would make Freddy a citizen, and the quick forward would be eligible to play for the U.S. team in March when it tries to qualify for the under-17 World Cup.
Eventually, he hopes to play professional soccer in Europe and to play for the United States in the World Cup, which is held every four years and includes the best teams from each continent.
Washington Post sports writer Jason LaCanfora recently talked to Freddy for KidsPost.
What is your day like? How much time do you spend in school? How much in soccer? Do you have a roommate?
The school day is normally 4 1/2 hours long. We went from 8 until 12:30 and then we would go back to academy, eat lunch, go get treatment if you're injured or you need it, and then we get over to the fields. We leave around 3 p.m. and training starts at 3:30 and goes until 5:30. Then we come back, eat dinner, do our homework and have the whole night to do what we want. I have two roommates and it's a dormitory setting with kids who play a lot of different sports -- tennis, soccer, golf, hockey.
Do you miss your family? How often do you get to see them?
As long as we keep playing every day, I don't get homesick, but when we're not playing soccer I just sit here and kind of do nothing. As long as I keep playing it gives me something to do and it's fun. Plus, it's hard to get homesick because you're with your teammates all the time and we have a lot of fun. I see my family in the summer and we go home for the holidays. And you can fly home on the weekends sometimes if you want to.
When did you realize that you were REALLY good at soccer?
I always knew I wanted to play soccer as a professional, and when I first came to America I started playing and started working really hard. It came into my mind that I could go someplace after I had been down here [in Florida] and we first played an MLS team. I played really well and I was so surprised because going into the game I was nervous and small and younger than anybody else. But they didn't treat me like a kid and I just went out and played well and Coach [John] Elinger was pretty surprised.
You left Ghana when you were 8. What do you remember about the country and what do you miss most?
I miss the soccer and the lifestyle, because whenever we came back from school we would just take a soccer ball and go outside and there would be 20 guys out there waiting to play. I was the supplier of balls in the neighborhood. [Freddy had relatives in the United States who sent him soccer balls.] We'd just go out there and play nonstop until it got dark. We'd play every day. We didn't go a day without playing.
What is your ultimate goal or dream in soccer?
One day winning the World Cup, that's the dream. Being on the U.S. National Team and winning the World Cup. I'll take the win any way I can get.