Saturday 27 May 2017, 10:07

Conrad: I have a lot of respect for eSport champions

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  • Jimmy Conrad is a former USA international with 27 caps and two World Cup appearances (in 2006) to his name

  • The former defender now works in the media and commentates on FIFA gaming tournaments

  • He is a big admirer of the mental strength shown by eSport champions

Fans of eSports viewing recent broadcasts of FUT Champions competitions are unlikely to have missed Jimmy Conrad. The former USA international, who earned 27 caps for his country, is Electronic Arts’ star presenter, and he fronted coverage of the six regional FUT Champions contests and the Ultimate Team Championship in Berlin, where caught up with him.

The location is appropriate, as it was in Germany that Conrad enjoyed the crowning moment of his playing career, taking part in the 2006 FIFA World Cup™. While there, the 2005 MLS Defender of the Year, who was included in the MLS Best XI on four occasions, got a real taste of the pressure involved in playing at the very highest level. The memory of that experience has increased his admiration for the mentality exhibited by eSport players.

“I have a lot of respect for these young champions,” he said with a smile. “The way that they deal with all the pressure they’re under is really impressive.”

He continued: “The players who take part in an event like this may act like they’re just sitting around at home with their friends, but that’s not the case at all. They’ve got sponsors, and some of them have been signed up by big clubs, and that really puts pressure on them to get the right results, just like I and all professional footballers have experienced in the past.”

Commentating on FIFA gaming competitions is just one of many strings to the American’s bow, as he also covers football for several media outlets on his YouTube channel. “I knew that I wanted to start doing media work so that I could share my passion with as many people as possible,” he said. “Fans often think that it’s easy for a former player to get into broadcasting, but they’re wrong. Putting together an analysis and making a reasoned argument into a microphone or in front of a camera are things that have to be learned.”

And when he was offered the opportunity to put his talents as an analyst and interviewer to good use in the virtual football world, it seemed a natural step to take. “I’m part of a generation that grew up with video games, and I’m fascinated to see how huge it’s all become now. Our competitions are followed all over the world and enthusiasm for them continues to grow,” explained Conrad.

Consequently, the ex-Kansas City player has the impression that he is also playing a small part in the development of football, especially in the country of his birth, where the sport still has a long way to go. “In the United States, the FIFA video game serves as a showcase for football,” he said. “It’s not like in Europe or South America, where football is the most popular sport. The FIFA game is often a nice, fun way for young Americans to discover football for the first time.”