Sporting Kansas City has invited National Football League star Chad Ochocinco to Kansas City next week for a four-day tryout with the Major League Soccer club. Following the tryout, set to begin on Tuesday, Sporting Kansas City will determine whether to extend the trial period.
Ochocinco, a soccer player growing up and active supporter of the sport, has earned six NFL Pro Bowl selections in his 10-season NFL career and is well known for his media-friendly personality.
“We’re always searching for players who can help our team and bringing in new talent,” Sporting Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes said. “We know that Chad is an exceptional athlete and that he loves the sport of soccer, and he did play a lot when he was younger. We’re excited to see how his skills will translate once he arrives next week and begins training with our team.”
Ochocinco’s interest in soccer is well documented and dates back to his playing days as a striker in his youth. The Miami native was introduced to the game at age four and played competitively until attending Miami Beach Senior High School.
“Due to the NFL lockout, I’m excited to be able to follow my childhood dream of playing for a Major League Soccer team,” Ochocinco said. “Thanks to Sporting Kansas City for giving me this opportunity.”
He considers many of the sport’s biggest stars as close friends, including New York Red Bulls Designated Player Thierry Henry, Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo and two-time FIFA World Player of the Year Ronaldinho. In January, Ochocinco visited Ronaldo, Kaka and the rest of Real Madrid’s squad, and was introduced to Manager Jose Mourinho.
At 6’1 and 192 pounds, Ochocinco was drafted by Cincinnati in the second round of the 2001 NFL Draft out of Oregon State University and went on to become the most distinguished wide receiver in Bengals history. He holds the team’s all-time records in receiving yards (10,783), receptions (751) and touchdown receptions (66), as well as both the single-season (1,440) and single-game (260) marks for receiving yards. Ochocinco is also one of only six players in NFL history to compile 10,000 or more receiving yards with a single team, surpassing the milestone last season.
Away from the playing field, Ochocinco has become a media sensation with a massive fan following. On television, he appeared on Dancing with the Stars after having a reality TV show on VH1 called Ochocinco: The Ultimate Catch and co-hosting The T.Ocho Show with Terrell Owens on Versus, the same network that gave him his own segment on Sports Soup.
He launched his own iPhone application and mobile game, Mad Chad, and branded his Twitter feed the Ochocinco News Network, garnering more than 1.8 million followers. Ochocinco is also a main character in the EA Sports video game NFL Street 3 and filmed a Super Bowl commercial with Los Angeles Galaxy Designated Player David Beckham.
Formerly known as Chad Johnson, he legally changed his name in 2008 in a tribute to his signature number 85 jersey. Ochocinco is under contract with Cincinnati through the 2011 NFL season, the final year of a five-year extension signed in 2006.
The NFL is currently in a lockout while the players union and team owners negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement.