Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Soccer Is in Lifer's Blood

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Soccer Is in Lifer's Blood

Article excerpt

Alecko Eskandarian really had no choice but to grow to love the game of soccer.

Growing up the son of former Cosmos star Andranik Eskandarian, the sport was a part of Alecko's everyday life from an early age.

It was time he cherished and greatly took advantage of, evolving into, perhaps, the greatest soccer player to ever come out of Bergen County.

"It was such a blessing growing up with my father," said Eskandarian, the 2000 National High School Player of the Year his senior season at Bergen Catholic and first overall pick in the 2003 MLS Draft by D.C. United.

"I was absolutely privileged to be able to take in and share my dad's experiences and talk to him about things not many people have the opportunity to do. My dad played at the highest level of soccer possible against the greatest players in the world. To grow up with that knowledge, those anecdotes, was unbelievable."

The senior Eskandarian, who owns and operates two sporting goods stores in North Jersey, played for Iran's national team in the 1976 Montreal Olympics and the 1978 World Cup before moving to New Jersey.

With the Eskandarian name came the Eskandarian expectations. Alecko says despite his father's well-documented athletic credentials, nothing was handed to the son throughout his career.

Whether it was with the Crusaders or at the University of Virginia or in the MLS, Eskandarian says he worked for everything he got.

"At Bergen Catholic, I felt like even though my father was a professional, still no one really knew who I was. I had to work hard to make a name for myself, to prove I was the real deal," said Eskandarian, 30, who grew up around the Crusaders while watching his older brother play. He served as the team's ball boy in seventh and eighth grade, patiently waiting for his opportunity.

"At Virginia, same thing. I had the least scholarship offers out of the entire freshman class. …

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