Odell Beckham Jr. is a star now. Thanks to his incredible hands and insane athletic ability, the New York Giants wide receiver sprung onto the scene in the NFL this season, earning offensive rookie of the year honors, along with what some say was one of the best catches they’ve ever seen in the game.
OBJ may rely on his hands to make a living, but using his feet was how he got into sports. The former LSU star said his first sport was soccer, which he started playing at the age of three. Beckham Jr. continued to play until he was 14 and said that his coach pushed him to try out for the U.S. Men's National Team; however, that likely would have meant going overseas to play and leaving his family at a young age, which was a sacrifice the young Beckham didn’t want to make.
Flash forward to this past week when Beckham Jr. was in England and on Soccer AM on Skysports. During the interview, the Giants receiver was asked which type of player he resembled most. Beckham Jr. didn't shy away and went with two of the world's best: Lionel Messi and Neymar. Check out the interview below and skip to the 3:40 mark if you're impatient and want to hear OBJ compare himself to Messi and Neymar:
Beckham Jr. also once compared himself to Cristiano Ronaldo.
Obviously, on the surface, the comparisons come across as presumptuous. That said, after seeing OBJ's athletic ability last season, we may not put it past the talented star from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Besides, his last name does fit the profile.
Beckham Jr. isn’t the only player in the NFL whose first love was soccer. Pro Bowl defensive end Ndamukong Suh loved the game at a young age, and spent a lot of his time watching Thierry Henry at Arsenal and Barcelona. The sport runs deep in Suh's family. His father played semi-pro soccer in Germany and his sister plays for the Cameroonian national team. The 6’4", 305 pound Suh eventually grew out of the game in 8th grade, but still participates in pick up games all the time and says the game helps him with conditioning and footwork.
Indianapolis Colts franchise quarterback Andrew Luck also grew up with the game while living abroad. Luck played in the midfield and attributes those days to some of his success now. According to Luck’s former Stanford teammate Zach Ertz, the star quarterback “single-handedly helped a ragtag group of football players beat members of the Stanford women’s soccer team in a pickup game.”
With the sport growing the United States, it's good to see players from the most popular sport in our country showing love for the world's game. Perhaps sooner or later these types of athletes will stick with the worlds version of football.
Follow Bryce Badwan on Twitter @bbadss