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Adu returns to Stars and Stripes with a glimpse of talent.

Freddy Adu, once hyped as the greatest soccer talent the U.S. has ever produced, on Wednesday returned after a two year absence from internationals and provided a reminder his talent has by no means vanished.

Adu, who spent last season on loan to a club in the Turkish second division, helped create the winning goal as the U.S. beat Panama 1-0 in their CONCACAF Gold Cup semi-final.

The forward, who was given a professional contract at 14-years-old and was hailed as the American Pele in some quarters, has struggled to make his mark in European club football and has faded out of the U.S. national team set-up.

But while many have written him off, the Ghana-born Adu said he had never lost his belief that he could get back to top level football -- a chance he was given when recalled by U.S. head coach Bob Bradley.

"A lot of people were saying oh, he s done and this and that and you can t listen to that. You have to have faith in your ability," Adu said.

Still only 22, Adu came on as a second half substitute and carved open Panama with a superb cross-field pass to Landon Donovan, who then set up Clint Dempsey s 76th minute winner.

"When you get your chance to get into the game you have to make it count," said Adu, who conceded that in the past he had taken his spot in the team for granted.

"Bob said go in the game and bring a lot of energy and make a difference -- those were my instructions and I tried to do that," said Adu, with a smile.

The smile was lost from Adu s face after he missed out on last year s World Cup finals in South Africa and then found himself without a team to for regular club football.

"It was the lowest point... everything fell apart and I didn t have a team. I had a couple of trials and they weren t looking for a player like myself and it was basically tough.

"When you are down like that it is up to you to either crumble or force your way back. Some people find a way to work their way back and some crumble -- I had a lot of support from family and friends, it was difficult but I got myself in the right frame of mind. You always have to have hope.

A chance was given by Bradley when he was surprisingly recalled to the squad for the Gold Cup and then given his opportunity in the semi-final.

"I think he has matured, when you see a player go to the second division in Turkey to keep things going in his career, that tells you something," Bradley told reporters.

"You can tell that when he got a chance in this camp, he appreciated it.

"It shows he has matured in the way he acts and trains. He didn t start out this camp great, but you could see over time he was getting better and better."

Muscat Press and Publishing House SAOC 2011

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Publication:Times of Oman (Muscat, Oman)
Date:Jun 23, 2011
Words:529
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