2010 FIFA World Cup: Dempsey Could Earn Iconic Status in South Africa

Sean HartnettCorrespondent IJune 9, 2010

PHILADELPHIA - MAY 29 : Clint Dempsey #8 of the United States handles the ball during a pre-World Cup warm-up match against Turkey at Lincoln Financial Field on May 29, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
Hunter Martin/Getty Images

Clint Dempsey is already a firm favorite amongst American soccer fans, but he can become a world-renowned icon this summer in South Africa.

For many years American soccer fans pinned their hopes on Landon Donovan to be that man. The humble and less outspoken Donovan never seemed to embrace the role, rather allowing his performances on the pitch do the talking.

Dempsey carries himself with the  bravado and swagger that has caused Americans to rally behind him. He has become the man to inspire American hopes in the 2010 World Cup. Part of that image is due to his rapping alias "Deuce."  Clint appeared alongside fellow Texan rappers in "Don't Tread," for a video done by Nike ahead of the 2006 World Cup.

If not for Dempsey's partnership with Nike, Adidas could have made a great commercial similar to those depicting how Lionel Messi and Steven Gerrard got their "superpowers." As a boy back in Texas, Dempsey grew up in a trailer park where he learned to play football with Mexican immigrant children. While his brother was being scouted, Clint was discovered while practicing his juggling. The rest, as you may know, is history.

The other half of his image is—of course—due to his footballing ability. Dempsey combines skillful dribbling with a tenacious attitude on the pitch. His all-out effort is easily relatable, as his number eight jerseys have been the most requested in soccer shops across the United States.

His popularity grows greater by the day.

Followers of the Premier League are already well-aware of Clint's prodigious talent.  Dempsey began to make a name for himself "across the pond" in his debut season by coming off the bench and scoring the goal that saved Fulham from relegation against Liverpool. He further won the hearts of Fulham supporters by tallying two goals during a 2008-09 match against London rivals Chelsea including a last-minute equalizer.

His greatest moment for the "Cottagers" came in a thrilling comeback against Juventus in the Europa League knock-out stage. Dempsey scored a dazzling chip-shot that sent the "Old Lady of Italian football" packing. Fulham went on to reach the 2010 Europa League final but lost to Atlético Madrid in extra time.

Spanish fans were stunned as the Americans ended their 35-match unbeaten run in the 2009 Confederations Cup. Clint scored the second goal of the match in the 74th minute, putting the result out of reach for the reigning Euro 2008 champions. He opened the scoring in the tournament's final, but his country was dumped out by the mighty Brazil.

If Dempsey is able to continue his inspiring performances in South Africa, fans around the world will join his ever-growing legion of admirers. Clint Dempsey's reputation is quickly rising in world football, and he has become a symbol for the rise of America in the world's game.