After the high of attending the Adidas Elite Soccer Program in Denver Colorado this summer, LHHS senior Chris Nieto admits it’s a little hard to focus on getting ready for the start of school. Chris plays soccer for the Wildcats and was invited to attend ESP with 100 other youth players from all over the country. “I was very excited when I got my letter in the mail. The players are the crème of the crop, and more than 100 college coaches and pro scouts were there.”
The camp is sponsored by Adidas and Gatorade, and all expenses except airfare are paid. “We were really pampered. We stayed at a nice hotel, and they gave us free clothes, gear, cleats, and everything we needed.”
Chris says he enjoyed getting to know the other players and meeting the camp’s special guest, Claudio Reyna, a former U.S. National Team captain. At the end of the week, coaches selected 36 players for two All Star teams to play in the final match and Chris made the cut. But the big surprise came when former FIFA World Player of the Year – Zinedine Zidane – arrived to meet the guys and play along with them. Zidane is famous for headbutting (video here) Marco Materazzi in the World Cup Final in 2006 (Materazzi later admitted to insulting Zidane’s sister), but Chris reports that Zidane was wonderful with the guys. “He was a real inspiration to me. He gave me great advice and was just a great guy. It made me want to be a better soccer player.” After starting in the All Star game, Chris even got a chance to sub in for Zidane in the second half of the game.