Landon Donovan on life at Leon
The 36-year-old US legend talks Footy Mcfooty Face and coming out of retirement – once again!
You surprised everyone by resuming your career. Why did you decide to join Mexican outfit Leon? Because they reached out and expressed interest. I didn’t really have any desire to go back to it, but sometimes there’s an opportunity that is once in a lifetime, so I had to consider it. I’d followed the Mexican league for so many years and wanted to play there at some point. I took a few days, spoke to my wife and people at the club, and went for it.
You’d retired in 2016. Had you ever considered returning before Leon’s interest? No, not at all. I was very happy at home with my family, but I always live with an open mind. I’ve learned to never say never again.
You have retired twice before, the first time at 32. Was it a mistake to retire so young? No, I needed a break, and at that time I thought I was done for good. I wanted to travel and visit different parts of the world, and needed time off to do that – I’m happy I did. The first time I came back was completely different circumstances – it was with LA Galaxy, the team I had been with for years. They had some injuries so I wanted to help out for a few months.
What’s it been like at Leon so far? It’s been fantastic, and very enjoyable every step of the way. Obviously, I’ve got to get back to top
“RUNNING FOR US SOCCER PRESIDENT? WHO KNOWS? I’VE DEDICATED MY LIFE TO HELPING AMERICAN SOCCER”
shape and be sharp again, but I am confident it’s just a question of time. The first game for Leon brought a lot of excitement. The fans reacted very positively – now I just want to get to the best place I can as a footballer.
You scored some key goals against Mexico for the USA. Did you wonder what reception you might get when you first arrived? [Laughs] We talked about it! It’s part of history, and it will always come up with other Mexican players and the fans. We joked around a little bit and will continue to do so, but now we’re all on the same page – it’s all good!
Now you have returned, would you consider playing for the USA again? Of course. It’s my national team. I’m always ready to help, not only on the pitch, but not excluding that option. I’d be happy and honoured to do so.
How long will you play on for? I’ve signed a one-year contract and we’ll see how that goes. It depends how I feel and the way I contribute, but I could see myself playing on for longer than that.
Did you really consider running for US Soccer president after the team failed to qualify for the World Cup? I gave it a short thought, but I soon realised that I wouldn’t be qualified to do it at the moment. In the future, who knows? I’ve dedicated my life to making American soccer better and will continue to do so.
You have done some consultancy work for Swansea – how was that? It was a great experience for me. As a club they have everything in place, but I wanted to contribute and help out in a few areas. I’ve got to say it was nerve-wracking watching their games and it brought some anxious moments, but I liked it.
You were involved in the potential San Diego MLS franchise. What did you think when it was announced that fans had voted to call the club Footy Mcfooty Face?! That was such a big joke we played! [Laughs] I live in San Diego now and they used to have a team years ago. I went there at least once a month as a kid. It’s very close to the border so there are Mexicans and Mexican Americans nearby, which is a great foundation for a fanbase. I’d love to see an MLS franchise there.