Freddy Adu, 23, was formally introduced by Brazilian club Bahia on Friday, his eighth move since turning pro in 2004. He addressed several topics during a media event in Salvador. (The full podcast is available here.)
What happened over the course of your career? At 14, you were compared to Pele. You have had nine clubs. Is this finally your chance to show your soccer?
“Yes. The reason why it looks like I played for so many clubs is because, when I was 18 years old, I went to Benfica and Benfica is a very big club. They need to win right away, so I was loaned to different teams. They just wanted me to go out and get games and get better. It’s not all Benfica’s fault. It’s also my fault. I take some of the blame because I was young, I was inexperienced, and I was living in a different country for the first time in my life without my family and friends. It was difficult to adjust. But now, I am a little older and wiser, a better person, a better professional, more mature. This is a great chance for me and I intend to take advantage of it.”
How do you deal with the pressure of…..
“I got it.”
He and the audience laugh. Adu had interrupted the interpreter because he understood the question in Portuguese.
“It’s a lot of pressure, yes. They believe in me; that’s why they brought me here. I am going to work hard and I expect to compete for a starting job. For the national team, it will come around, it will happen if I play well here. Right now, it’s not about the national team; it’s about Bahia.”
I know you said the national team is a dream faraway, but the World Cup is here next year. Is that one of our goals?
“Hopefully [playing at Bahia] helps me get back with the national team. That really wasn’t why I came here. I came here because I always had a dream to play in Brazil someday. My style of play is always compared to a Brazilian. I finally have a chance to do that. I am excited.”
When will you be ready for your first game with Bahia?
“As of right now, I am ready to play. I have been working hard for the last month to get my fitness in order because I hadn’t played in so long. I have adjusted to the weather and the speed of play here [in training]. Physically I am ready and mentally I am ready.”
Bahia will host Vitoria da Conquista on Sunday in state competition.
What it will be like playing for famed manager Joel Santana, who was appointed this week, his fourth stint with Bahia since 1994 and 32nd coaching job in 32 years…..
“I saw what South Africa did in the World Cup and they played very exciting football, so I am excited to be a part of it and excited to play for Joel Santana.”
[Santana did coach Bafana Bafana but was dismissed before the World Cup.]
Have you ever heard Joel Santana speak English?
“Oh, I have. [laughter] He speaks good English. Hey, don’t try to get me in trouble!”