Lee Nguyen

The well-travelled Texan, who signed with PSV Eindhoven at 19, shares some wisdom—and a fascinating alternative career revelation.

Nguyenlee_isi_mlsack20120922171_qlead Andrew Katsampes/isiphotos.com

WHAT IS YOUR EARLIEST MEMORY OF SOCCER?

Winning the Dallas Cup. We were one of the first teams from Dallas to win the Dallas Cup, so that was a great early memory.

WHO WAS YOUR SOCCER HERO GROWING UP?

Pelé

DESCRIBE YOUR FIRST EXPERIENCE SUITING UP FOR THE U.S.

It was amazing. It was a rush. It was in San Jose and all my family and friends came out. It was an amazing experience.

WHAT IS THE QUALITY YOU MOST ADMIRE IN A SOCCER PLAYER?

I would say hard work and dedication.

WHAT IS THE QUALITY YOU MOST DISLIKE IN AN OPPONENT?

(Laughing) I guess, not being able to back it up.

WHAT IS THE KEY TO YOUR SOCCER SUCCESS?

A lot of hard work. When I was young, I put in a lot of work on days that I wasn’t training with my club team—just by myself or with my Dad—and I think that paid off.

WHAT IS ONE SOCCER SKILL YOU WANT TO IMPROVE?

Just my defensive qualities, I guess. Being able to play two ways better.

WHO HAS HAD THE GREATEST INFLUENCE ON YOUR DEVELOPMENT?

My Dad is definitely one of them. And Hassan (Nazari), my first club coach (at the Dallas Texans). He groomed me when I was little and he was the one I took advice from growing up on where to go to college and stuff like that.

WHO IS YOUR CLOSEST FRIEND IN THE GAME?

Man, that’s a tough one! I keep in touch a lot with my high school coach. I still talk to him a lot, so him and my Dad.

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST SOCCER ACHIEVEMENT?

Signing my first professional contract overseas (with PSV Eindhoven).

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST SOCCER DISAPPOINTMENT?

Not being able to win a championship when I was over in Vietnam. That was one thing I really wanted to win.

WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT LESSON YOU LEARNED FROM THE GAME?

Don’t get discouraged. Don’t get down on yourself if you have a bad game. I’ve learned that there are a lot of games in a season and you do not win or lose a season just through one game.

WHO ARE THE MOST TALENTED TEAMMATES YOU HAVE PLAYED ALONGSIDE?

Phillip Cocu and Jefferson Farfan from PSV

WHO ARE THE TOUGHEST OPPONENTS YOU HAVE LINED UP AGAINST?

Alex, the Brazilian defender. He’s at PSG right now. Definitely one of the toughest guys I’ve ever played against.

IF YOU WEREN'T A PROFESSIONAL SOCCER PLAYER, WHAT WOULD YOU DO FOR A LIVING?

(Laughing) I think I would definitely be a rapper.

WHAT IS YOUR ULTIMATE DEFINITION OF SUCCESS IN THE GAME?

Ultimate success would be being happy with your career and being able to hang up the boots with no regrets.

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