D.C. United’s Honduran international winger Andy Najar is a name seemingly destined to be planted in the minds of football fans the world over in the near future and faith is certainly a key character trait of the gifted 18-year-old.
Since making his debut for the Washington side as the ninth-youngest player in Major League Soccer history on 27th March 2010, Andy’s talent has reportedly caught the eye of the likes of Arsenal and Real Madrid.
He was born in Choluteca in the south of Honduras with El Salvador and Nicaragua geographically either side of this particular area of the Central American nation, moving to the United States as a 13-year-old in 2006.
Having relocated to the independent city of Alexandria, Virginia, he then joined D.C. United’s Academy in 2008 and his beliefs have of course remained integral during his ascent to his current status as a rapidly emerging prospect.
The 2010 MLS Rookie of the Year is a Christian and he explains how this dominates his choice of music.
“There are a few artists I like, but I like listening to Christian music a lot. Since I’m not going to church that often here in the U.S. I listen to Christian music more than anything else.
“I can’t remember the first record I ever bought but the last record I purchased was at Church. It was a Christian music group, but I can’t really remember their name right now.”
Andy became the second player to sign for D.C.’s senior team straight from the Academy, in doing so following goalkeeper and teammate Bill Hamid.
20-year-old Hamid is one of the main players to get a say in the team’s pre-game music which includes the genre of reggaeton, popular throughout much of Latin America.
Depending on who you talk to, reggaeton originates from Panama or Puerto Rico, and below is an example of the style of music that can sometimes be heard in the dressing room at the club’s RFK Stadium.
“They play all types of music in the locker room, including reggaeton. The ones in charge of the music are always Kurt Morsink, Bill Hamid or Dejan Jakovic.
“I can’t really comment on it (individual D.C. players’ music choices) because I don’t really listen to the music my teammates listen to, but every time they play something everybody else likes it.”
D.C. United were one of the ten founder members of the MLS in 1996 and have won 12 titles domestically and internationally, with Bolivian forward Jaime Moreno a true club legend.
Moreno, known in England to Middlesbrough supporters after his two spells in the North East, was the MLS’ all-time leading scorer with 133 goals when he retired in 2010, although since surpassed by the Columbus Crew’s Jeff Cunningham.
The 2010 season was an immensely tough one for the club as they finished bottom of the Eastern Conference, and indeed the MLS overall, with only six wins from 30 games.
Perhaps the most visible beacon of positivity was Andy in his first year as a professional as he netted five times with a further two goals in the US Open Cup, although his place as the team’s top scorer reflected the overall struggle.
2011 represented a marked improvement as ‘the Black-and-Red’ finished 7th in the Eastern Conference, and 13th out of the 18 teams overall.
The team’s head coach is Ben Olsen, the former USA international midfielder who spent time on loan with Nottingham Forest in 2000/2001, also giving over a decade of service to D.C. as a player.
Andy was a key performer again this season alongside impressive attacking options Chris Pontius, Josh Wolff, Charlie Davies and Dwayne De Rosario who was the joint-leading scorer in the MLS with 16 goals.
Scoring six (five in the regular season) this year, Andy’s skill and productivity at such a young age are desirable assets for any team and it is an easy choice for him to name the player he derives the most inspiration from.
“Messi. There are many of his plays that I would love to make and try to imitate, his finishing is incredible.
“I have never seen a player like Messi; he leaves the goalkeeper lying down on the ground in almost every goal.”
This has also been the year in which Andy, who was eligible to represent the USA, made the announcement that he would like to play for Honduras if selected by head coach Luis Fernando Suarez.
He made his debut for the country of his birth in a September friendly with Colombia, a game where Wigan Athletic midfielder Hnedry Thomas was sent off for Honduras.
Thomas is one of a number of Hondurans plying their trade in the UK along with notable names such as Maynor Figueroa (also Wigan), Wilson Palacios (Stoke City), Emilio Izaguirre (Celtic) and Ramon Nunez (Leeds United).
Striker Carlos Costly also spent time on loan with Birmingham City in 2009 and even further back diminutive frontman Milton Nunez played just one game for Sunderland under Peter Reid, despite starring for Honduras over 14 years.
Honduras of course featured at the 2010 World Cup and the mention of his fellow countrymen in the UK was something that pleased Andy.
“I am very happy that Honduran players are being recognised and performing well in the UK. That shows that Honduran football is only getting better, hopefully we’ll be able to see that in the national team as well.”
He is without doubt a player to keep an eye on in the coming years and the European teams linked with him are a strong indicator of the intrigue around Andy and his vast potential.
Potential as we know is not always fulfilled but he has a clear focus, both for the present and for the years to come.
“My goal is to eventually get to Europe. That is why I am working as hard as I can here with D.C. United, leaving everything for the team and trying to improve every day.
“Hopefully that will pay off in the future.”