Keller's Career One-of-a-Kind

Kasey Keller
Kasey Keller

On his thoughts about being elected into the National Soccer Hall of Fame:
“It’s a great honor. You look at some of the guys that have been elected before. It’s not an easy process. It’s not like it’s an open-door policy. It’s cool to be voted in. I really saw it firsthand when I was able to speak on (Brian) McBride’s behalf of how cool it is. I don’t think anybody really starts a career with that as a goal, ‘I’m going to be in the Hall of Fame,’ and I’d never even really thought much about it. I’m proud and thankful for the people that helped get me to that point throughout my career -  teammates, coaches, friends, family. It’s kind of a culmination of what you’ve done and how you got there and all the people that helped you get to get to that point, so I’m thankful for that.”

On what makes it “cool”:
“I think what makes it cool is that it’s so few people. You look at it and you think, when I was told that I was nominated and I was up for it, and then I looked at the guys that have been nominated, some teammates who I played a lot of games with, and big names that hadn’t been voted in, that’s when I really started to realize that, ‘Oh, it’s a pretty exclusive club here. This could be pretty cool.”

On what sticks out to him when he reflects back on his career:
“From early on, starting with the Youth World Championships and winning the Silver Ball in ’89 and kind of getting things started that way; being part of the ’90 World Cup team, then just having a long career with the National Team, enjoying that; the whole time in Europe. I remember going over to Europe and thinking, ‘Oh man, if I could play five seasons, if I could play 10 seasons,’ and then ending up playing 17 years in Europe and most of the time going back and forth with the National Team and being able to finish up my career coming back home and being a part of Seattle at the beginning of the Sounders and seeing what that’s become… there’s so much that I just look back upon and go, ‘Wow, that was pretty cool how that all worked out.’”

On how far the sport has come:
“That’s the crazy part about it. You have this generation now that basically grew up with MLS. MLS didn’t exist when I went to Europe. You didn’t have a choice; you just tried to make it. I think the other thing, too, was that I was so naïve as well, just ‘I’m just going to go to Europe and I’m going to do this and I’m going to do that,’ really kind of being the first on an American passport to kind of establish himself in England, the first to play in Spain, in La Liga; so it’s all those little things that I really had no idea back in the late 80’s, early 90’s when I was kind of breaking through. Now it just seems so normal. It’s crazy when I think back about that sometimes. I remember one of my first trips with the National Team in Brazil, the Fan Zones in Copa Cabana for the U.S. games were full of U.S. fans that had just flown down to Brazil, maybe they didn’t have tickets to the game but they had tickets to a different game and they were just completely representing down in Brazil. We had just a handful of people in 1990 and one or two reporters. The game is extremely healthy compared to where it was.”

On what it means to be recognized by the people he spent so much time representing:
“I think that, once again, that goes back to that cool factor, where I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the National Team and it’s the reason why I stuck around so long, because of how I felt connected to the American fan.  I hadn’t played in America until I came home in 2009. MLS started in ’96 and I didn’t get here until 13 years into the league, but I had so much pride playing for my country and representing my nation that I just wanted to do it as much, and keep that ball rolling and keep that relationship with the American fan. It was fun watching it grow and get bigger and just continue to move in the right direction. And now, to be recognized by that group for what I was able to do early on, and them thinking that what I did was pretty important is, like I said, back on that cool factor.”

On whether his unusual dimensions will make it difficult to make a Hall of Fame jacket for him:
“You know, it’s a 42’ long. Just let out a little bit in the shoulders, it should be okay.”

On his wife’s support throughout this career:
“I’ve said it multiple times: there’s no chance I would have had the career I had in Europe if I hadn’t had the support that I had at home. When you can be living in London and your kids are at a birthday party, you go to pick them up and your phone rings and you step outside and you walk back in to tell your wife you’re moving to Germany and there’s not even a flinch, you know that things are right. Like I said, I just would not have had anywhere near the career I had without the support that she gave me.”

On with whom he would most want to share this honor (besides his family):
“It’s tough. I have a lot of friends in the game. One is sitting next to me right now, that’s Marcus Hahnemann, but really, Brian McBride was my roommate for 10 years on the National Team. He’s the reason I got to Fulham, the reason why our families still get together all the time. Really, between Marcus and Brian and Claudio, Gregg Berhalter and Frankie, you know that crew that was together for such a long time from basically ’98 through 2006. It was a good run. It’s just great to see how far this sport has come in a short period of time and I’m proud to have been a part of it from the 80’s to now.”