Meet Christian Pulisic, the US’ most expensive football player at just 24: before ‘Captain America’ went to the 2022 Fifa World Cup in Qatar, he signed a whopping US$73 million deal with Chelsea

Christian Pulisic went from dreaming of playing for a top club in Europe, to playing at the 2022 Fifa World Cup. Photo: @cmpulisic/Instagram
The sports world is currently all abuzz about the 2022 Fifa World Cup in Qatar (although not everyone has positive things to say). And for the US, the spotlight is squarely on one man who has already emerged as the most expensive player in the country … and he’s only 24.

Meet Christian Pulisic, the star player of the US men’s national soccer team, or USMNT, who is also regarded as one of the best US football players of all time. Now playing at his first-ever World Cup, Pulisic is expected to lead the USMNT’s golden generation of young and talented players in Qatar.

Christian Pulisic of the United States runs with the ball during their World Cup group B match against Wales, at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Doha, Qatar, on November 21. Photo: AP

Nicknamed “Captain America”, Pulisic is a winger who has played over 50 matches and scored more than 20 goals for the US.

“I’ve done a lot of things I want to do, but the World Cup is something on top of all of that,” Pulisic said in a report by The Washington Post. “That’s just been a dream my whole life. I’m sure getting into that moment is going to be special.”

The US played its first match of the tournament against Wales on November 21, drawing 1-1.

But just how did Pulisic get into football and how meteoric has his rise been? Let’s take a closer look …

He was born and raised in Hershey, Pennsylvania

Christian Pulisic has played football since he was a boy. Photo: @cmpulisic/Instagram

Growing up, Pulisic played football for development clubs like PA Classics in Pennsylvania. “It was a big step in my career. They gave me a lot,” Pulisic told Fox News in a 2021 interview.

He also lived in Michigan and England for several years in his childhood and even snagged a trial with future club Chelsea when he was 11 years old.

Inside the ‘HMS WAG’, where Qatar’s strict rules don’t apply

His parents were footballers too

Christian Pulisic celebrates with his dad Mark Pulisic, his mum Kelley Pulisic and the UEFA Champions League Trophy after the UEFA Champions League Final between Manchester City and Chelsea FC in May 2021, in Portugal. Photo: Getty Images

Pulisic was born to Mark and Kelley Pulisic, who played football at a university level for George Mason University in Virginia. His dad Mark also played professional indoor football for a local Pennsylvania club.

“We never put too much pressure on him just because we play,” Mark told TUDN USA in a 2017 interview. “We felt that his development would take care of itself if he always had the passion to play.”

He began playing for the USMNT in March 2016

Quite a feat: Christian Pulisic is the youngest US player to score an international goal for his national team. Photo: @cmpulisic/Instagram

Pulisic is the youngest US player to play in a World Cup qualifier. He made his debut against Guatemala for the USMNT at just 17 years old and scored his first goal for the USMNT not long after, in a 4-0 victory over Bolivia in a May 2016 friendly, which made him the youngest player to score an international goal for the national team.

The youngest-ever player to captain the USMNT

Christian Pulisic during the Bundesliga match between VfB Stuttgart and Borussia Dortmund at Mercedes-Benz Arena in April 2016, in Stuttgart, Germany. Photo: Getty Images

Pulisic was just 20 years old when he first captained the USMNT. He donned the captain’s armband for the first time in a friendly match against Italy in November 2018.

Meet Dennis Rodman’s record-breaking football star daughter, Trinity Rodman

He led the USMNT to victory at the CONCACAF Nations League in 2021

A natural leader? Christian Pulisic, holding a trophy. Photo: @cmpulisic/Instagram

Pulisic captained the USMNT to win the inaugural CONCACAF Nations League, and scored the winning penalty in the final against Mexico in June 2021. He was named in the team of the tournament – the best player from any nation in each of the 11 positions of goalkeeper, defenders, midfielders and forwards.

Chelsea’s US midfielder Christian Pulisic celebrates scoring during the English Premier League football match between Burnley and Chelsea at Turf Moor in Burnley, England, in October 2019. Photo: AFP

“It was a massive, massive game for us just to show CONCACAF what we’re about,” Pulisic told ESPN in a 2021 interview, adding that scoring the winning goal was “a big moment”.

Pulisic was also awarded the US Men’s Soccer player of the year thrice – in 2017, 2019 and 2021.

He began his professional career in the Bundesliga in Germany

Borussia Dortmund’s Christian Pulisic celebrates scoring his side’s first goal during a Champions League group A football match between Club Brugge and Borussia Dortmund at the Jan Breydel Stadium in Bruges, Belgium, in September 2018. Photo: AP

Pulisic first made his name in European football during his three-year career with Borussia Dortmund, also known locally as BVB, in the Bundesliga, the top-flight league in Germany. He moved to Germany when he was just 15 years old and is fluent in German.

Borussia Dortmund’s Christian Politic goes for a ball during a training session at Wanda Metropolitano stadium in Madrid, Spain, before the Champions League match between Atletico and Dortmund, in November 2018. Photo: AP

“I would say the youth systems in Germany are what have impressed me the most,” Pulisic previously told ESPN. “I literally went through the system. You’re fighting with other players every day for a pro contract.”

He is also a Croatian citizen

Christian Pulisic getting some sun. Photo: @cmpulisic/Instagram

To begin playing in Europe before he turned 18 without a work visa, Pulisic had to obtain a European Union passport. Pulisic’s grandfather, Mate, was born in Olib, Croatia, which made him eligible for Croatian citizenship.

US team captain Christian Pulisic is the most expensive US footballers ever, who is currently playing at the 2022 Fifa World Cup in Qatar. Photo: EPA-EFE

“It was always my dream as a young boy to play for a top club in Europe. When the opportunity to play for BVB came up, I really wanted to take it,” Pulisic told Bild in a 2017 interview, adding that Croatian coach Niko Kovac had helped him secure a Croatian passport.

52 trips in 3 months: should Lionel Messi cut down his private jet travel?

Things got even better for him in 2019. Chelsea signed Pulisic for US$73 million, making him the most expensive football player from the US ever, playing in arguably the most competitive league in Europe – the Premier League.

( Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar and others may have been transferred for even more money, but the amount is still impressive.)

Pulisic moved to London, UK, to play for Chelsea

Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic celebrates scoring the team’s second goal with Marcos Alonso at Stamford Bridge in London, the UK, in January 2021. Photo: Reuters

“It is a privilege to have signed for such a legendary club,” Pulisic said in a CBS News report.

Chelsea, one of the most valuable clubs in the world, broke the transfer record for an American player by signing Pulisic. The record was previously held by John Brooks, when Bundesliga team Wolfsburg paid US$22.5 million for his services in 2017.

Christian Pulisic became the first US player to play in the finals of Champions League in 2021. Photo: AFP

The hefty investment has proved fruitful as Pulisic has won several trophies with Chelsea, including the prestigious Champions League.

He had a Champions League victory with Chelsea in 2021

Born a winner? Christian Pulisic has led his team to victory multiple times throughout his career. Photo: @cmpulisic/Instagram

Pulisic is the first US player to win one of the biggest trophies in football when his team Chelsea beat Manchester City last year in the Champions League. He also lifted the Uefa Super Cup and the Fifa Club World Cup with Chelsea in the same year.

While Jovan Kirovski is the first-ever US player to be on the winning team at the Champions League, Pulisic is the first to lead his team to victory in the final. “I’m just so proud to be here. It’s been a difficult road for me and I couldn’t imagine winning the Champions League ever in my life – and now I’m here,” Pulisic told CBS Sports.

This article originally appeared on Insider
Want more stories like this? Follow STYLE on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter.
  • No, we don’t mean the Marvel superhero … ‘Captain America’ Christian Pulisic is leading the US men’s national soccer team in Qatar at the 2022 Fifa World Cup as its youngest-ever captain
  • Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar may have had more expensive transfers, but the Pennsylvania native’s deal with Chelsea is nothing to sniff at – and he previously played for Germany’s Borussia Dortmund