Clint Dempsey's childhood coach: "He has earned it"

East Texas native Clint Dempsey made history Monday when he scored the first goal against Ghana in Team USA's battle for the world cup. Going into game two, he has a lot of local friends and neighbors pulling for a win.

Just outside the Nacogdoches city limits, Dempsey's parents have a house in Appleby. They also have some very proud neighbors.

"Somebody from Nacogdoches!" Jenarie Alexander said, recalling that she has known Dempsey's grandmother decades ago. "And he was playing in that World Cup. Is that what they call it?"

Alexander is not your average soccer fan. And she never expected to have a home-town hero.

"His parents were taking him to Dallas to play soccer three times a week," Alexander recalled. "I thought 'well I can't believe that.'"

On Monday night Dempsey was on fire from the first moments of the match with Ghana. After landing the first goal he became the first American to score in three World Cups.

Dempsey's former coach, Farshid Niroumand, met him at age seven.

"He has earned it," Niroumand said.

Now the Nacogdoches High School Athletic Director, Niroumand still follows Dempsey's career after having coached several of the Dempsey brothers.

"Clint and Lance were number 11, so basically we call it Dempsey's number."

The school retired that number long before Dempsey shot to stardom.

"He is one of the most loyal players I've had," Niroumand said. "We are constantly in touch. We exchange emails and text messages. Actually, I had a text message from him yesterday saying 'coach, nose broken but I will play.'"

From humble beginnings in a trailer park, and with the blessing of a supportive family, Dempsey's story is almost unreal.

"He probably dreamed but he never thought it was going to happen overnight," Niroumand said.

"It paid off," Alexander said. "He's a very nice young man."

Dempsey and the U.S. team play Portugal on Sunday, June 22 at 5pm central time.


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