Freddy Adu was born on June 2, 1989, in the seaside town of Tema, Ghana, in West Africa. His father Maxwell and mother Emelia ran a convenience store in town that was known for two things: fishing and soccer. By the time Freddy was two-and-a-half, he always had a soccer ball at his feet, and by age 6 he was playing in bare-footed pickup games with kids much older than he was. “I never went a day without playing,” said Adu. “I was always playing.” When Freddy was eight his parents won an immigration lottery that gave his family the opportunity to come to America, and in 1997 they settled in Potomac, Maryland, a town just outside of Washington DC. Once settled down, Freddy’s mother took two jobs, working more than 70 hours a week, to support her sons.
Freddy used soccer to bond with kids at school, and his extraordinary skills were quickly noticed. One playground friend was so impressed that he invited Freddy to play in an organized tournament hosted by the Potomac Soccer Association. Freddy dominated the tournament and turned the heads of some of the soccer coaches in the area. At age 10, Freddy’s legend was growing in the area, and he was invited to play with the US Olympic Development Program in a tournament for kids under fourteen in Italy. Despite being one of the youngest players out there Freddy once again dominated the competition, leading his team to the tournament title and taking home the MVP award. It was at this point that the world took notice of the budding American superstar, as teams like Inter Milan began recruiting Freddy to come play in Europe. The next year the US Soccer Federation, as well as companies like Adidas came calling for Freddy’s services. His mother felt that he was too young to start a professional soccer career, wanting her son to focus on education and having a normal childhood instead. Freddy continued school and excelled in his activities beyond soccer. In fifth grade, he entered his first art contest and won the top prize in the country. He also did so well in school that he was able to skip the seventh grade.
At age 12, Freddy was asked to attend a tournament in Florida by John Ellinger, coach of the U.S. Soccer Federation’s Under-17 team. As usual Freddy impressed the crowds and as a result was invited to join the US Under-17 team and attend high school at the IMG Academies in Bradenton, Florida. The prestigious program is run on a 190-acre campus and training facility, and when Freddy joined the program in 2002 at age 12, he became the youngest member of the team. Freddy excelled in the national program and it wasn’t long until he was ready to take his talents to the pros. In 2003, at age 14, Freddy signed a 4-year contract with DC United of Major League Soccer. Before Freddy began his pro career with DC United, he was able to finish high school by graduating 3 years early, all the while maintaining straight A’s. Playing for DC United was a perfect fit for Freddy because it allowed him to live back at home with his mother who drove him to and from practice and games. In Freddy’s first season with United, he scored five goals and recorded 3 assists as he helped his team to win the MLS Cup. Freddy continued to play and improve, making the MLS All-Star Team twice, and in December 2006 was traded to Real Salt Lake.
His stint at Salt Lake was cut short after a dominant performance in the U-20’s World Cup in the summer of 2007. Freddy captained the United States at the 2007 U-20 World Cup, where he became the first player ever to play in three U-20 World Cups and the first player to ever score a hat trick in both a U-20 World Cup and U-17 World Cup. European teams came after Freddy’s services, and he transfered to Benfica in Portugal. His terrific displays also led to his first senior international start for the United States against South Africa in November 2007. Since the transfer from MLS to Europe, Freddy worked hard to adjust to the Portuguese style of play, and made his mark with the club with a debut against Copenhagen in the prestigious UEFA Champions League. Seeking to develop his talents further, Benfica loaned Freddy to AS Monaco, Belenenses, Aris, and Caykur Rizespor. During the loans, Freddy also managed his international responsibilities by helping the United States qualify for the 2008 Beijing Olympics with four goals in three games during qualifying and he later represented the team at the 2008 games in China. His successes continued and in 2011, Freddy started in the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup final verse Mexico and helped in every way he could by providing the right passes for both US goals in their 4-2 loss. Despite the loss, Freddy enjoyed another homecoming when he returned to MLS by signing with the Philadelphia Union. He continues to work hard to improve his game, with the ultimate goal of leading the US to a World Cup title always on his mind.