DOHA, Qatar -- As the son of a celebrated former England soccer player, United States assistant coach Anthony Hudson might have conflicted emotions ahead of the World Cup match against his home country.
His father? Possibly less so.
Alan Hudson was renowned in the 1960s and ‘70s for his flamboyant playing style for Chelsea, Stoke City and Arsenal. But many fans believe he didn’t get the recognition he deserved from his country; he played just twice for England’s national team.
Alan Hudson thinks he was punished for missing an under-23 tour when injured, and claims it led to a three-year exclusion from the national team. It is something that still upsets the elder Hudson, who has recently embarked on an attempt to have his international record expunged.
“I’ve asked the FA to remove my name from everything, I don’t want anything to do with them,” the 71-year-old told English newspaper The Daily Telegraph earlier this year.
If his relationship with his own national team is complicated, Alan Hudson has a deep affection for the United States from his days playing for the Seattle Sounders in the North American Soccer League near the end of his career.
“My old man really truly loves America,” said his son. “The way his life was here, he loved the league at the time, the old NASL. He loved the lifestyle. He loved the way the Americans were and treated him. I grew up with my old man saying, ‘You’ve got to go to America.’
“He really wants America to do well and he believes we have potential. He believes in the players and he’s really excited for the game.”
Anthony Hudson, who missed out on qualifying for the 2018 World Cup as New Zealand coach, described the chance to compete in Qatar as assistant to Gregg Berhalter as the fulfilment of a lifelong dream.
The opportunity to play England makes it even more special.
“I remember calling my family and they were all screaming,” he said. “It was a proud moment. An exciting moment. I was brought up in England, but I was born in America. Growing up I used to follow all the World Cups and follow England, but also in the background my old man played out here and he just loved America. So when the draw came out it was an amazing moment.”
Even if his father wants to erase memories of his limited England career, the son talks of the pride he felt as a child.
“He truly was my hero growing up,” he said. “I remember as a young kid carrying round my old man’s game against West Germany — his debut game. Whenever I was at my friends’ houses, the old VHS tapes, I’d just put the game on and show them. I was just very, very proud of him.”
Anthony Hudson's own playing career didn’t emulate his father’s and he was released by West Ham before a spell at Dutch team Nijmegen. He battled issues with drinking, attended Alcoholics Anonymous and the 41-year-old now gives motivational talks at prisons.
“I just feel like I want to give back to people and help people that are struggling,” he said.
He also found a second career in soccer – completing his coaching qualifications alongside England coach Gareth Southgate. England beat Iran 6-2 on Monday to establish itself as one of the World Cup favorites.
“What Gareth has done has been incredible, where he’s got the team in major tournaments,” Anthony Hudson said. “I remember years ago when they were struggling to get to those stages of big tournaments. He’s done an amazing job and they have a fantastic team.”
AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports
James Robson is at https://twitter.com/jamesalanrobson