As a member of both the New England Revolution and the US Men’s National Team Under-20 squad, rookie midfielder/defender Amaechi Igwe is sure to have a busy 2007. Igwe, a product of San Francisco, CA, will be competing for a starting spot with the Revs in addition to helping the U-20s win their World Cup in Canada this summer.
RevsNet caught up with Igwe after training recently to discuss the pro game, the “balmy” New England weather, and, of course, his decision to wear the same number of former Revolution star and current US MNT player, Clint Dempsey.
Brian: What were your initial impressions of the organization upon arriving here?
Amaechi: I like the conditioning we’ve been doing. I like how we’re building up, coming in and working our way up for the season. We’re looking forward to the season.
Brian: When you were drafted in the first round by the Revs, did you talk to any of the players before the first training, or did that take place during the first training?
Amaechi: First training was the first time I talked to a lot of the guys. Stevie Nicol called before, when he drafted me, and I talked to him a bit, and I talked to Paul (Mariner), and that was pretty much it.
Brian: I know you’re on the U-20 team- when is the next time you’ll be getting called up for that?
Amaechi: I’m not sure when the next camp is. (The U-20 coaches) really didn’t talk much about it last time. I know that the (U-20) World Cup is in July. If I’m playing, and doing well here, (the Revs) don’t have to release me, so I don’t think it’ll be conflicting until that World Cup.
Brian: I don’t know if you know about the guy who wore number 2 before you…
Amaechi: (Laughs) I definitely know…
Brian: Do you see it being tough to try and fill Dempsey’s shoes, so to speak?
Amaechi: Actually, it’s a funny story. (The rookies) were in the locker room, and for some reason, I thought he wore number 7.
They asked us what numbers we wanted, and I took number 7. And then I was like “Wait, I think that’s Clint Dempsey’s number.” So then, I said, “No, I’ll just switch it to number 2”, because I knew somebody would ask me that (thinking number 7 would come with inevitable comparisons to Dempsey).
It’s funny, because I was talking to some of the guys, and they asked me “Why didn’t you take number 7?” and I said “Because, isn’t that Clint Dempsey's number?” (Laughs)
And then (when I realized that I had taken Dempsey’s number), I was like “Oh man…”
But, when my dad played, he was number 2. It’s kind of cool to be able to wear it.
(Note: Amaechi’s father, Tony, hails from Nigeria and represented his country in the Olympic Games in Mexico City in 1968. He was also captain for the Nigerian National Team during World Cup qualifying tournaments in 1969 and 1973)
Brian: So you’re not trying to upstage the other number 2 that was here before you got here…
Amaechi: Yeah, yeah.
Brian: It’s a matter of having a personal tie to the number.
Brian: Lastly, as a California native, what do you think of this New England weather? (Note: at the time of the interview, it had just snowed and the temperature was 17 degrees)
Amaechi: Before this, I had never even been in the snow. It’s kind of a culture shock for me. It’s tough to get used to, but I’ll just have to get used to it.