Monday 14 November 2022, 23:55

Alexi Lalas: The World Cup is something that is above and beyond everything that you do kicking the ball

I think for players that play in a World Cup, regardless of how much money or fame or success you have at the club level, this is something you will have dreamt about, this is something that you will have fantasised about, this is something that is above and beyond everything that you do kicking the ball. We are living in uncertain times filled with conflicts and global crises. The world is divided.

The FIFA World Cup, through the power of football will bring people together to cross borders, unite and celebrate together.

Alexi Lalas

Football Unites the World will be a global movement to inspire, unite and develop through football. FIFA Legends have shared their stories of how football united their respective countries during uncertain times, and before the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 kicked off, we spoke to USA legend Alexi Lalas for just what the tournament represents to him.

The 96-times capped defender played every minute of the four games the United States featured in at the 1994 FIFA World Cup™ as they advanced out of the group. And crucially, for Lalas, the World Cup represented an opportunity for a seismic sporting cultural shift in the United States with the 1994 tournament and the 1999 Women’s World Cup acting as the catalyst for changing the landscape of sport in America.

“Back in the previous century, back in the 1900s, when I was running around with a whole lot more hair, we actually had two World Cups that fundamentally changed my country, the United States: the 1994 World Cup, which I participated in, and then, only a few years later, the 1999 Women’s World Cup.

“And I love the fact that there are young men and women that now grow up in the United States, which is a soccer country, and have incredible resources and pathways that never existed for me. I love the fact that they don’t even know that that has not always been the case, because that, for me, is a sign of progress. “But a lot of people will go back to 1994 and 1999 as that signpost moment when everything fundamentally changed, for the players on the field, but also for the sport off the field.”

Alexi Lalas

The prestigious tournament will bring a global audience to Qatar with Lalas urging those who will take centre stage to enjoy every moment of the limelight. “There is a reverence that is associated with the World Cup,” he said. “And there is a pressure that comes with stepping in front of billions of people, but the best players in the world and the best teams in the world learn to harness that pressure and really turn it into an advantage and not look at it as a weakness, in that they want to star for the world."