2012 Male Athlete of the Year Winner Clint Dempsey: "I've Been Trying to Better Myself Every Year"
U.S. Men's National Team forward Clint Dempsey talks to ussoccer.com about his big year with the MNT and thanks the fans for voting him the 2012 U.S. Soccer Male Athlete of the Year.
Nov. 19, 2012
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Clint Dempsey: “I’ve been trying to better myself every year and do my part to help the team do well. I want to thank the fans for voting for me. It’s always great to be recognized for doing a good job, but at the same time it’s been a team effort from all the players and the coaches. We look forward to the next round of qualifying and making sure we get the job done. The most important thing is that we make it to Brazil and do well, and I want to help the team in any way I can.”
ussoccer.com: You scored six goals, the most in your international career in a single year, and that beat the record you set last year. What has been the difference?
CD: “I have found a little bit more consistency in front of the goal. I’ve been working hard in that area, and also trying to find other ways to help the team. There’s more I can contribute and more I can do better.”
ussoccer.com: The other players nominated for the award [Michael Bradley, Herculez Gomez, Tim Howard and Fabian Johnson] also contributed in different and important ways. Do you sense that the team is growing?
CD: "Definitely. Michael Bradley and Tim Howard have been incredibly consistent. Those guys always step up and have always done it over the years. They are solid performers and definitely two guys we rely on to help us achieve success. The more guys we have doing well the better, and there’s no doubt Michael and Tim have just been so consistent and just get better and better. It’s great for Herc because he’s someone who came in and made an impact and showed that he wanted to be there. He fought hard and deserved his spot on the team and the nomination. Fabian Johnson has come into the team and fit in really well and does a great job for us.”
CD: “The wins against Italy and Mexico are big as far as giving the team a boost of confidence moving forward. You might not have the history of doing well in a certain place, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go out there and be successful and we’ve shown that. Those are two great moments that stand out from this year, but at the same time really the most important thing is qualifying. We finished strong in the Semifinal Round and want to keep that momentum going into next year.”
ussoccer.com: Your consistency with the National Team has coincided with two strong years at Fulham in which you set club records for scoring, and now the move to Tottenham. How have the performances at the club impacted your international career?
CD: "Playing in the Premier League is one of the toughest things in the world, and being able to test yourself week in and week out allows you to get better and also gain confidence. The more goals you score, the more confident you get and the more comfortable you become in front of goal. I have improved my quality in the final third, and it’s something I continue to work on. I’m still adjusting to things at Tottenham, and I hope the experiences at Fulham will lead to me making an important contribution with Spurs.”
CD: “I do, and it’s been really amazing to see and be a part of all these years. It really gives us a boost, especially when we go on the road now and see so many fans traveling and supporting us. The games in in Columbus and Kansas City this year were awesome. It’s some of the best support I’ve ever experienced playing for the National Team, and hopefully that’s something we can look forward to in the next round of qualifying. There is really a special connection. It will be something that plays an important role in our success, and we try to show our appreciation for everything they do.”
ussoccer.com: Is there still more to come from Clint Dempsey?
CD: “I believe so. You have to keep moving forward and keep staying hungry and being motivated to try and better yourself. This next year is an important year for the U.S. National Team. We want to qualify for the World Cup. That’s the main focus. It’s not about getting awards; it’s about the team doing well. For some players it will be their last chance to be in a World Cup, and others it might be their first. It’s something you don’t’ want to let slip through your fingers, so we have to make sure we take advantage of that opportunity.”