As a general rule, Americans could care less about soccer. In fact, we care so little that we don’t even call it by its true name. The sport is slowly becoming more popular, particularly among the hipsters of the northwest, but perhaps Americans need a star player to get behind, one we can identify with, before we embrace the beautiful game. We need someone to match our ambivalence, our lack of interest, our confusion as to why everyone gives a shit.
Meet Benoît Assou-Ekotto. He plays full-back (which in soccer is defense, not offense) for Tottenham Hotspur and, according to Wikipedia, is known for his “frankness.” Here’s a recent interview in which Assou-Ekotto is asked about a new teammate named Paulinho, who Tottenham paid a fortune for over the summer:
He has no idea what they’re talking about. It’s awesome. Can you imagine someone on the Pistons saying they didn’t know what Josh Smith looked like, or someone on the Warriors shrugging when asked about Andre Iguodala? That’s because those guys are passionate about their sports… for Assou-Ekotto, it’s really just a job.
Here’s one more quote, from a May 2013 interview, that sums up Assou-Ekotto (and our love for him):
“It’s always, ‘What do you think? Ronaldo or Messi?'” Assou-Ekotto says, blowing out his cheeks and scarcely concealing the boredom. “Or maybe, because he is a Liverpool fan, ‘Torres was good’ … blah, blah, blah. I don’t particularly like talking about football. I don’t immerse myself in it.”
He’s just like us, you guys!