Lan­don Dono­van on life at Leon

The 36-year-old US leg­end talks Footy Mc­footy Face and com­ing out of re­tire­ment – once again!

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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


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.

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