Editor’s Note: Altidore injured his left hamstring in the early minutes of the U.S. men’s team’s first game against Ghana; his status for the rest of the tournament is still up in the air at the time of this article’s publication. We — along with the rest of the nation — wish him a fast recovery and a successful World Cup.
At the age of 18 Jozy Altidore was featured on the cover of FIFA 08, celebrating next to Ronaldinho, one of the best footballers of our generation. If this seems a lot of pressure to place on a young man, consider that Altidore made his professional debut at the age of 16 for the New York Red Bulls, becoming the youngest player to ever score in an MLS playoff game. He spent the six seasons after his Red Bulls stint bouncing around Europe playing for club teams before most recently signing with Sunderland A.F.C. He has also represented the U.S. internationally 71 times, scoring 23 goals (three of which made up a hat trick against Trinidad and Tobago in 2009, making him the youngest U.S. player to do so in an international game) since his debut in 2007. In the midst of training for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, Altidore took time out of his busy schedule to talk to us about philanthropy, the new U.S. head coach and his team of choice when playing FIFA.
Additional contribution by J. Travis Smith.
Q. What’s one thing every man should know?
Always be able to look at yourself in the mirror without regrets.
Q. What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done?
Walk away from something I loved and started a new chapter.
Q. What are you working on right now?
Various projects with my foundation — the Jozy Altidore Foundation
— here and abroad. We just did a fundraiser with Victoria’s Secret super model Adriana Lima in Haiti and we are also involved in the FedEx No. 11 car driven by Denny Hamlin in the upcoming NASCAR race. Hamlin has a special paint scheme supporting Autism Speaks and we purchased multiple spots on the car to help raise awareness toward the disorder.
That opening match against Ghana is the biggest of the World Cup.
Q. Name one thing you can’t live without.
Q: Who or what influences you?
My parents and the few people in my inner circle that I trust.
Q. What are you reading right now?
Not a whole lot. Been very busy training for the World Cup. Usually grab The New York Times
when I can to catch up current events in the U.S. and across the world.
Q. Name one thing no one knows about you.
I loved The Lego Movie
Q. It’s your last drink and meal on earth. What’ll it be?
Last drink would be a Mango A-Go-Go Smoothie from Jamba Juice and my mother’s home cooking.
Q. If you could go back and tell your 16 year old self something, what would you say?
Do what makes you happy and no one else.
Q. How do you want to be remembered?
As a guy who was family oriented and helped others in need.
Q. How has Klinsmann changed the team since becoming head coach in 2011?
He has brought his own unique style, approach and direction to the Men’s National Team that has helped us get to this point heading into the World Cup.
Q. What are your expectations for the U.S. team in the World Cup?
We have set a goal to get out of the group stage. That is going to be a tough task for us, but it’s going to be tough for all four teams in our grouping. That opening match against Ghana is the biggest of the World Cup.
Q. If you could see the look on one player’s face after scoring a goal against him, who would it be?
There isn’t any one particular player I would single out. Any time you work hard to score a goal against the opposition is satisfying in itself.
Q. Do you play FIFA? If so, what’s your team?
Been playing a lot of FIFA with Manchester City.