Ever heard the one about one of the most famous footballers of all time playing for a tiny Californian side twelve years ago? Well if you haven’t, here is a quick explanation as to how one of Germany’s greatest ever strikers changed his name in order to “keep fit” after his retirement.
The year is 2003 and Soccer in the States was in a state of flux between the World Cup ten years previous and the MLS still not quite attracting the talent it does now. German striker Jurgen Klinsmann had retired and now lived in California. Klinsmann’s love for the States is well known and he is very much an adopted American. As with many former footballers he missed the game and was planning a career in management. To keep his body fit and his mind active he decided to get back into the playing side of the game but in a way that would be off the radar and with little pressure. As a 39-year-old he would not have been able to play in any of the bigger teams in America so he decided to join a side in one of the smaller development leagues. He made the call to ‘Orange County Blue Star’ and was asked along to help out the side. It wasn’t a decision by Klinsmann but by the team to change his name in order to ward off any media attention. Therefore Jurgen decided to come up with the name Jay Goppingen (named after the place of his birth). That meant he could take to the field and nobody would know the true identity of this former World Cup winner.
Orange County Blue Star played their games at the ‘Eagle Stadium’ in Irvine, California but with a capacity of roughly 100 it meant that not many people got to see ‘Jay’ score 5 goals in 8 games. Unfortunately with other commitments and a call to manage Germany the career of Jay at Blue Star was a short one but it did allow for one of the more bizarre ‘signings’ in football history.