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Watch Clint Dempsey Tear Up During Emotional Soccer Hall Of Fame Acceptance Speech

Clint Dempsey was tenacious as a footballer. He combined the typical American trait of indefatigability with verve and style going forward. Dempsey was unique as an American footballer, arguably the greatest offensive player the U.S. men’s national team has ever seen. 

On Saturday night, Dempsey was enshrined in the National Soccer Hall of Fame in Frisco, Texas, not far from where his family drove him to play soccer growing up despite living hours away in Nacogdoches, Texas. He was inducted alongside players Shannon Boxx, Christie Pearce Rampone, Linda Hamilton and Marco Etcheverry, plus referee Esse Baharmast. Hope Solo, who was to be inducted, postponed her ceremony to next year after she entered rehab following a drunk-driving arrest

Dempsey’s life story has been well documented. His family could only afford to focus on his older sister Jennifer’s promising tennis career, and Clint’s soccer took a back seat. After Jennifer tragically died at 16 of a brain aneurysm, Clint’s soccer career was allowed to take off, becoming one of the best players to ever wear the USMNT uniform. 

During his acceptance speech on Saturday, Dempsey thanked everyone in his family for helping him get to this point, tearing up constantly along the way, especially when talking about Jennifer.

“My sister Jennifer passed away, showing us that time is short, you’ve got to make the most of life and make the most of every opportunity that you have,” Dempsey said “That’s something that always stuck with me all throughout my career, no matter how hard things got, nothing would be harder than losing her.”

Clint certainly made his family proud with a career that inspired Americans across the country. 

Dempsey is the USMNT’s all-time leading goal scorer with 57 goals (tied with Landon Donovan) in 141 appearances. He played and scored in three World Cups and was an iconic player at Fulham, also spending time at Tottenham, New England Revolution and Seattle Sounders.

Dempsey wasn’t the only player inducted on Saturday. Shannon Boxx accomplished even more than Dempsey throughout her long career, scoring 27 goals in 195 USWNT appearances, winning three gold medals and playing at four World Cups.

“Making it into the Hall of Fame started with a dream of just wanting to play sports and wanting to be great at something,” Boxx said. “Both of my kids are going to walk through that museum, and I’m so excited that they get to see the talent and know that women can be amazing and do anything they want to do.”

Two other former USWNT players were inducted: Hamilton and Pearce Rampone. Hamilton went in on the veteran ballot after playing 71 games for the USWNT in the very early days of the squad (1987-95). Pearce Rampone was a stalwart for the U.S. with 311 appearances across five World Cups and four Olympics. 

Etcheverry went into the U.S. National Soccer Hall of Fame despite being Bolivian. He was one of the best players in the early days of MLS, helping D.C. United win three MLS Cups. 

As for the referee inductee, Baharmast officiated the first MLS game in 1996 and two World Cup games in 1998. 

You can watch the entire U.S. National Soccer Hall of Fame induction ceremony below. 

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