Ex-USA international Perez: I had to grow up quickly in El Salvador

Former USA international Hugo Perez said he experienced a steep learning curve when he was a kid learning the game on the street in El Salvador.

The now 49-year old head coach of the USA U15 side came to the States when he was 11 years of age but said his upbringing in his native homeland prepared him for what was ahead in his soccer career.

“I grew up playing in El Salvador,” he told USsoccer.com.

“When I was seven, I already was playing with 14-year-olds in the street. My dad helped me a little bit, but most of it I learned on the street, every day.

“I grew up quickly. Overall, I was ahead of a lot of the kids. My foundation was in El Salvador.

“When I got here, I played with older kids, and then adults. Even when I was 6 years old, it was a lot of 7-v-7. I didn’t play too much youth soccer.”

And Perez was also quick to touch on what occurred when he was looking to represent El Salvador at the 1982 World Cup in Spain.

“At that time, they didn’t want to do it,” said Perez, who appeared 73 times for the US.

“When that happened, I felt bad. The country where I was born didn’t want me. I wanted them to understand what they lost. I was eager to go there, have them understand what I was and what they missed.”

 
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