Rick Yeatts

Off the Pitch

The 2009 season for FC Dallas ended with a slew of victories and several new faces on the pitch. With the 2010 season now upon us, FCDallas.com thought we'd sit down with each of the players and give our fans a chance to get to know them better - not just on the pitch, but off of it.

Our series kicks off this week with defensive leader Ugo Ihemelu, whose acquisition from the Colorado Rapids in September of last season helped to shore up a back line that tied for most goals against in 2009. 

FCDallas.com: I know you grew up in this area, but you’re originally from Nigeria. Your name is obviously hard for a lot of people to pronounce. Are people generally surprised when you start talking and don’t have an accent?

Ugo: Yeah, especially when I was in Colorado. I got traded from Colorado and it said Nigerian, so people would see the Web site and read about me and then meet me and expect me to have a really thick Nigerian accent, which is obviously not there. It’s a surprise to some people.

FCDallas.com: Does that get annoying after a while?

Ugo: Nah, not really, it’s always entertaining. Sometimes I try to put on a Nigerian accent, but I’m not very good with it to be honest.

FCDallas.com: You’re one of a couple guys who went to SMU and played for Schellas (Hyndman). What’s it like to be back in the area and playing for him again?

Ugo: It’s been great. I always wanted to come back here and play at some point. I think coming back now has been really good for me. I get to see my family. I’d been gone for about five years and I would see my family about once or twice a year, and now I get to see them at least twice a week. I even get some home cooking which is always great.

FCDallas.com: You very briefly played for the Canadian National Team a few years ago. What was that all about?

Ugo: Actually, my brother and sister were born there, my parents went to school there and I lived there for about four or five years so I also have Canadian citizenship. I got called into camp with the Canadian National Team and got a free trip to St. Vincent for a World Cup qualifier, but I ended up not being able to play because of some red tape.

FCDallas.com: So when you were watching the Olympics were you cheering for Canada or the USA?[inline_node:7408]

Ugo: Honestly I was cheering for the U.S. because I’ve been here the majority of my life and I consider myself an American and, of course, a Texan.

FCDallas.com: Who was your favorite soccer player growing up?

Ugo: Hmm, favorite soccer player growing up. I would have to say Zinedine Zidane. Just his style, his confidence, he just made everything seem real easy. I got to play against him my second year with LA, so that was a great experience.

FCDallas.com: What about your favorite club internationally?

Ugo: Just one?  I’ve been a fan of Arsenal for a while. I enjoy watching other clubs, but I’m going to pick Arsenal. I have a couple of their jerseys at home.

FCDallas.com: Let’s pretend you’re auditioning for American Idol. What song would you sing?

Ugo: That’s a tough question. I’ve never thought about it. Can I rap?

FCDallas.com: Sure.

Ugo: Then probably 2 Legit 2 Quit. I have to take it back a little bit, you know?

FCDallas.com: You’re a very avid reader. What’s the best book you’ve read recently?

Ugo: Right now I’m reading The Age of Turbulence, and that’s been pretty good. The Alchemist I would say is the best book that I’ve read. Big fan of that one.

FCDallas.com: Last question. You’re obviously familiar with the area, what’s your favorite place to go out to eat?

Ugo: I like Texas de Brazil, that’s a good spot. I haven’t been back to Mi Cocina since I’ve been back here, I like that one. I’d say those two for now.