Tommy Redding is a soccer prodigy.
Redding is composed, cerebral, athletic, technical and a true leader on the field. A number of the US scouts and coaches see him as one of the top US prospects moving forward.
As a 1997 he was invited to US Residency with the 1996 class. Redding not only made an impact with the squad, but was arguably one of their most impressive figures in the lead up to U17 World Cup qualifying.
Despite their failure to qualify Redding was a stand-out. Forums and message boards began to light up with rumors that Redding was a serious target of some of the world’s finest clubs.
He recently parted with the talent factory down in Florida, FC America Vipers, to play for the USSDA powerhouse club Chicago Magic PSG, which also boasts FCA alumni Abuchi Obinwa, Allan Sexius, Phillip Stone and Aidan Wixted. Redding wasted no time in adjusting to USSDA as the ’97 joined the Chicago Magic U18 squad built from ’95s and ’96s.
Redding has been in spectacular form for the Magic over the first few months, so much so that the US U18s called him in for the International Tournament in Limoges, France.
We caught up with the busy US defender ::
OWTY :: Where and When did you start playing soccer?
Tommy Redding :: I started playing soccer in Orlando Florida. My family moved from California. Both my mother and father played sports at a very high level so they thought it would be easier for me to make friends if I participated in sports, so I choose soccer and played my first game when I was 5.
OWTY :: Who are some of the players you try to emulate your game after?
TR :: I am always trying to add to my game by watching a lot of different defenders. Pique is probably the one player I’ve spent the most time studying and learning from. He has a high soccer IQ and great ball skills.
OWTY :: You’ve been one of the hotter prospects in the United States over the last three seasons, what do you attribute your success too?
TR :: My exposure to high quality coaching and players has played a major part in my success. Playing for the Orlando based Vipers provided great training and game experiences. My US Soccer training camps and international matches with the NikeID2, US14 YNT and US15 YNT gave me an opportunity to gage my development and the u17 residency program took my training to another level. Now I’m fortunate enough to be a part of the u18 MNT pool.
OWTY :: What is it like having your father as a coach? How has he factored in to your development?
TR :: My dad is my best friend and my number one fan is my mom. When I was young he would always talk about doing things the right way and not worrying about winning or losing but to focus on learning and developing. He and I trained 5 days a week outside of my regular team practices all the way up to my leaving for the u17 team at 14 years old. He is a perfectionist but I would not be where I’m at if he did not pass that trait on to me.
OWTY :: What was it like playing with the US U17s?
TR :: There’s no greater honor in sports than representing your country. Every time I put on my US uniform I thank God for the opportunity. I know and understand how blessed I am to be a part of the USSF. I am forever grateful to all of the US coaches for the time they’ve put into helping me grow on and off the field especially coach Richie Williams and the other coaches for the u17’s.
OWTY :: Describe your feelings following the US’ loss to Honduras, after playing so well in the first few games?
TR :: It was the most painful soccer experience I’ve ever had to go through. We all had to leave our families for 2 years, trained 6 days a week and in some cases like mine had to recover from a serious surgery. Falling short of that dream will always stay with me but the players I got to meet and compete with will be my friends for life.
OWTY :: What is it like to wear the captain’s armband for the USA?
TR :: It’s an honor to have the trust of your coaches and teammates. I am not a big talker. I lead by example. When I play, I am 100% focused, determined and sometimes things don’t go the way I would like but as long as I’m on the field I’m going to give it my all. That’s how I like to lead.
OWTY :: Was it tougher playing against players a year older?
TR :: I never really thought about it. In Orlando I always played up. Our entire team played up 1 to 2 years in league play and would only play National Tournaments at age. One year I played in a league with u15 players and I was only 11. I guess you could say I played at my skill level versus my age. At least that’s how my dad explained it to me at that time. Haha
OWTY :: You’ve become a real leader as a center back, is that your preferred position?
TR :: Like most kids I started out as a high scoring forward but when I started playing with the Vipers the players were moved around as part of their development. I fell in love with playing defense. I really liked being able to control the game from the back and I was always encouraged to use my dribbling and passing skills so playing center back made sense to me.
OWTY :: Rumors have swirled that large European clubs are looking to secure your services for their Academies. Is European football in your near future? What are you planning for the fall?
TR :: I started receiving interest from European teams when I played with the NikeID2 team at 13. I started and played in all games and all of a sudden I started getting invitations to train in Europe. It’s always nice to hear that some big club is impressed with your play but you have to continue to work on your game. This fall has been very busy for me with the U18MNT, Pro training, Academy games and now I’m back to working out daily with my dad but I do plan on training with Orlando City pro team before leaving for Europe in the early months of 2014. After that who knows?
OWTY :: Where do you see yourself a year from now? 5 years from now?
TR :: A year from now I expect to be a better soccer player. Bigger, faster, wiser and definitely more experienced. I want to continue representing my country and hopefully within the next 5 years be a part of the US World Cup team. I want another shot at it. This time I want to be healthy and now I know what to expect. I want to be a professional soccer player within the next 5 years. I’ll never stop reaching for that goal because that’s all I’ve ever wanted to be.