USA national team captain Carlos Bocanegra has highlighted some of the players who influenced him early in his international career.
On the eve of the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup, the Saint-Etienne defender said it was the likes of former Manchester City, Sunderland and Rangers midfielder Claudio Reyna and ex-Fulham striker Brian McBride who really showed him what it takes to make it at the top.
“When I first came into the National Team, I watched how guys like Claudio Reyna, Brian McBride, Eddie Pope, Greg Berhalter and Eddie Lewis carried themselves and how they went about their training sessions and the kind of guys they were on and off the field,” Bocanegra said. “I didn’t realize it so much at the time, but I took a lot of things from them.”
He said that it was these players which really prepared him to take over as a senior player when the next generation came through.
“When it came time for them to retire and the next generation to come in, I thought about it a lot. I said, ‘Okay when these guys came to practice they worked really hard,” he added.
“They were serious about it and raised their level on the field and they brought positive things to the national team. This is what we need to do now and show the way for some of the younger players.’”
And as for the captaincy, Bocanegra insists he wears the armband with pride whenever he steps onto the pitch for his nation.
“It’s a huge honor and something I take very seriously as well,” he added. “I have an enormous amount of pride for our country. It’s something I cherish.”