NFL Stars Who Grew Up Playing Soccer

Is there a distinction between soccer and football? There isn’t one, or it’s a whole other sport, depending on whose side of the Atlantic you learned your English. 

The sport, which is administered by the NFL and is usually played with the hands and always with an oval ball, is referred to as football by American English speakers.

In the United States and Canada, what much of the rest of the world refers to as football is referred to as soccer or European football. What we call football in North America is referred to as American football in other parts of the world. 

Confused? To clear things up for the remainder of this article, we will call American Football – Football and European Football – Soccer. Phew!

Apart from the name, the sports have very few similarities apart from the fact that both sports provide some great in-play betting action, and boy, do we love live NFL betting

So, the question is, why are football coaches employing tactics to look at players with a soccer background? Soccer is an excellent sport for improving agility, vision, reaction time, and conditioning.

That’s why football coaches like Mike Leach and Jim Harbaugh go out of their way to recruit soccer players.

There’s no doubt in their minds that playing youth soccer helped them identify superior athletes and, as a result, better football players.

Given the circumstances, we may witness a large influx of soccer-to-football players in the coming years. If that happens, they’ll be following in the footsteps of these well-known celebrities.

Ndamukong Suh

Suh was destined to be a football player. The 6-foot-4, 305-pound defensive tackle appears to have been created in a lab to crush opponents on the football field.

Suh’s first love, though, was soccer. He grew up idolizing Thierry Henry, a striker with Premier League side Arsenal who scored 174 goals. Suh’s father was so impressed by his son’s soccer abilities that he considered enrolling him at a European boarding school to give him a better chance at a professional career, but Suh’s mother vetoed the notion.

Suh only stopped playing soccer after a significant growth spurt in the eighth grade, as his body became better suited to football. He believes his soccer-trained feet and agility are a substantial part of why he’s such a handful on the football field.

Odell Beckham Junior

With a name like Beckham, it’s hard to ignore the soccer links already! The New York Giants star wide receiver is a big soccer fan who claims it was his first love as a kid.

He even said he had a chance to try out for the US youth national team when he was younger but turned down the opportunity because he didn’t want to travel to Europe to make it big.

So instead, he changed his focus to American football, and let’s be honest, it paid off for him. Beckham has visited Germany to hang out with Bayern Munich and his pal David Alaba and has demonstrated his soccer skills on numerous occasions.

Ezekiel Ansah

Ansah, a Detroit Lion with soccer in his blood, was a multi-sport athlete in Ghana, competing in soccer, basketball, and track and field.

Unfortunately, his hopes of playing in the NBA faded, and he was cut from BYU’s track team due to his 6-foot-6, 250-pound physique, which was far too enormous for a sprinter, despite his speed.

Football, on the other hand, appeared to be a plausible choice. As a sophomore, he walked onto BYU’s team, and the rest is history.

Tony Fritsch

Fritsch, who barely understood English, earned an undrafted rookie contract with the Cowboys and made his NFL debut in November 1971 at 26.

He immediately established himself as a successful signing by kicking a game-winning 26-yard field goal in his debut game.

The Austrian, who won the Pro Bowl in 1979, played in 12 NFL seasons for Dallas, San Diego, Houston, and New Orleans, appearing in a total of 139 games.

Fritsch helped the Cowboys win a Super Bowl in his first year in the league, making him the only man to win professional titles in both soccer and football.

(Rapid Wien was Austrian champion three times during Fritsch’s stay with the team). The most successful soccer player in the NFL paved the way for others to follow in his footsteps. One of them was Fritsch’s teammate on the Austrian national soccer squad.

Chad Johnson

Chad Johnson isn’t afraid to show off his passion for soccer. The four-time All-Pro receiver is a die-hard supporter of Real Madrid of La Liga and is notorious for playing FIFA against anyone.

Johnson enjoyed a variety of sports as a kid, but his favourite was soccer. When children are young, parents should enroll them in as many sports as possible.

And whichever the child clings to is most likely the one they like. Soccer was his sport. And as he got older and into high school, his grandmother sat him down, discussed longevity and a professional career, and decided that football would be the best sport for him. As a result, Johnson explained, he switched gears and concentrated on football.

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