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Landon Donovan: The iconic career of a US soccer legend

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There are few who have influenced a nation like Landon Donovan has.

An entire generation will remember the day when, in injury time versus Algeria, Landon Donovan slotted home to lead the United States to the World Cup round of 16; topping their group.

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"You cannot write a script like this."

And just as Ian Darke so eloquently stated during that remarkable moment in US soccer history, Landon Donovan's international career was better than anything a Hollywood director could produce.

His accomplishments are unparalleled, his play is breathtaking, his character a paragon for youth to follow. The raw talent was evident against Mexico when, in the round of 16, he came on and scored to lead the Americans to a 2-0 victory over their biggest rivals.

Star status was secured after breaking the all-time American goalscoring record. And becoming a US Soccer legend was the result of a career spanning over a decade long, and containing some of the greatest moments in American soccer history.

Unforgettable

These memories will never be forgotten, but perhaps Donovan's biggest contribution to soccer was greater than a game winning goal or another international record. His impact on the sport in the nation he represented so patriotically will be the lasting consequence of his career.

A decade ago, soccer was merely a game in America. Just a game people played as a hobby. Not many people cared much for soccer. Certainly not enough for ESPN to frequently broadcast matches, or for the general population to bat an eye if the US National Team had a match.

But Landon Donovan helped change US culture. Soccer is now the most popular sport among youths in the nation, and it has the support of major broadcasting companies such as ESPN and Fox.

Without Landon Donovan, none of this would have happened. America needed an icon. Donovan was just that.

Impact

During a fragile moment in American history, when soccer could have become merely just another sport in a nation of many, Landon Donovan came through. He made people believe in soccer.

It was injury time, and the US National Team desperately needed a goal. Landon Donovan received the ball from Tim Howard and countered with speed. Passing it off to Jozy Altidore, the game was delicately poised at 0-0. In a blur, the ball fell to Donovan's feet - the ball begging to be slotted home.

And Donovan delivered. The United States erupted. A nation believed in soccer.

Lasting memory

Since then, millions of children have taken the opportunity to play the beautiful game. While Donovan has not been solely responsible for this, he has certainly played a major role in the development of soccer in a nation dominated by football, baseball and basketball.

His contribution is bigger than any game winning goal, any goalscoring record, any qualification to a further round. It is a contribution bigger than himself, or his team.

His legacy will be remembered by the millions of children who play soccer in America in the years to come.

Thank you, Landon Donovan.

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