It’s a way of replicating childhood adventures camping at Powell Park on Lake Sam Rayburn in east Texas. And it’s a way to thank his father and mother, whose sacrifice during lean times in Nacogdoches helped launch one of the most successful careers in U.S. soccer history.
“I’m not typical of what you think a footballer would do after the season, especially in Europe where they go to the exotic locations,” Dempsey said. “You travel so much, that’s the last thing I want to do. It’s just about relaxing with the family — relax, man, and chill.”
What else would you expect from a guy who, in his Twitter photo, is shirtless and posing with a big fish stretched across his face?
Dempsey’s summer solitude won’t last long, though. A storm is brewing on distant shores, where, over the course of 51
2 seasons with London-based Fulham, he has achieved superstar status. Elite clubs in the Premier League have reportedly targeted him for acquisition.
The end of the regular season this month ushered in the “silly season,” when rumors of player movement trump royal family gossip in the British tabloids.
Arsenal? Liverpool? Another country?
“I’d be flattered if it were all true,” said Dempsey, who is trying to shake off a groin strain before the U.S. friendly against Brazil on Wednesday night at FedEx Field. “You can’t believe all the speculation.”
What you can believe is this: Dempsey wants, someday soon, to play for a club competing in the Champions League, Europe’s ultimate club competition featuring the titans of the Premier League, Spain’s La Liga, Germany’s Bundesliga and Italy’s Serie A, among others.
He is entering the final season of a Fulham contract that pays him $3 million annually. Fulham gained promotion to the Premier League 11 years ago and is reliably competitive, but the chances of the Cottagers ever qualifying for the Champions League with a top-four finish are distant.
“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to play Champions League and push myself to the highest level possible,” the midfielder-forward said. “I’m not saying Fulham won’t ever get there, but I’m 29 years old now and I only have a certain number of years left to play at the highest level. Hopefully, that is in the cards.”
Fulham’s best card might be to sell him for a handsome transfer fee this summer before he is free to leave next year.
For Dempsey to further his career and, in turn, bolster the American program, U.S. Coach Juergen Klinsmann would like to see him move.
“With all respect to Fulham, as he often mentions, you want to play in the biggest club competition in the world, and that’s the European Champions League,” Klinsmann said. “Hopefully something will happen over the next couple weeks.”