NBC Sports reports that Odell Beckham visited the UK on Friday to promote the NFL’s 2015 International Series and appeared on Sky Sports’ Soccer AM telling viewers that the star wide receiver’s first love was soccer.
Asked if he could play pro soccer at a high level, Beckham said that he believed so, had he stuck with it and traveled to play overseas, instead of giving it up as a young teenager. Beckham decided to stay with his family in the United States.
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Giants fans needn’t worry much about the lure of soccer as a serious threat. While Beckham compared his soccer skills to European superstar forwards Neymar and Lionel Messi, he conceded that it was too late to revisit that dream.
Instead, the NFL rookie of the year spoke modestly of carrolling in what some have called “the greatest catch in NFL history.” He indicated that he looked forward to making many more grabs like that in the future. One might find irony in an athlete of Beckham’s unparalleled catching ability to pine for a sport that generally precludes the use of hands, but Beckham did showcase his goal-tending abilities and magnetic paws while meeting with members of Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur in England.
It is not unprecedented for an NFL player to have also played pro soccer, though, to date, only kickers have accomplished the feat. Matt Bahr and Chris Bahr both played in the North American Soccer League before becoming place kickers in the NFL; Morton Anderson played on Denmark’s junior national soccer team; and Colts great Dwight Freeney was a four-sport letterman and soccer goalkeeper in high school, before focusing on football as an All-American at Syracuse.
There is no doubting that Beckham is multi-talented but the Giants hope he sticks with football.