When the ball rolls tonight at El Sadar (9pm) Spain and the United States will face each other in one of the most anticipated friendlies by Spanish fans. It is true that the conflict that keeps 15 internationals out of the national team due to their differences with the Spanish Federation has somewhat tarnished the clash against the current world champion, but the latest addition to Vlatko Andonovski's list has also drawn a lot of attention. This is Carson Pickett, the first one-armed soccer player to compete with the United States senior team. Born without a left forearm or hand, the player has replaced Emily Fox in the squad, who suffered a severe blow to the head in the friendly against England.
The 29-year-old defender plays for the North Carolina Courage, of the NWSL, a team with which he has played 20 of the 22 games of the recently completed season, scoring one goal and getting six assists. She debuted with the senior team last June, in another friendly against Colombia, in which she played 90 minutes and became the first woman without an arm to play for the national team. A challenge that she assumes naturally. “I want people to know that even though it's considered a disability, it's not. I can do anything that someone else can do,” she explained to US media following her national debut.
Her parents didn't do any ultrasounds during her pregnancy because they didn't want to know the sex of their baby, so they didn't find out until the day she was born that she was missing an arm. Despite this, she has grown up in a family that has always encouraged her to improve herself and since she was little, when she gave up using her prosthesis, she showed that she would do things her way. “I only know one way to do it. How do you do things with two arms? ”, She replies when asked.
Over the years, Pickett was also becoming aware of the power he could have in inspiring thousands of young people: "It opened my eyes to realize that I could help people, change their lives," he says. He transformed that rage that he felt at the beginning, when the journalists only asked him about his condition, not about sporting aspects, into an impulse forward. He partnered with Nike and helped create a boot that's accessible to everyone, with a wrap-around strap closure that replaces the classic lace-up, the Phantom GT Academy FlyEase, so it can be worn by people without one or both limbs.
“My parents have two hands and two arms and unfortunately they couldn't teach me how to tie my shoes. There were times when I cried. Tying my shoes seemed impossible," recalls Pickett, who speaks with pride of the product he has helped create and the lives he can change with it: "I thought of my younger self and what it would have meant to me if there had been something So when I was growing up. I feel like this boot represents me and anyone else who is unique."
It is not the first time that this soccer player attracts all the lights. In 2019, when she was playing in Orlando Pride, her friendship with a young fan went around the world. Little Joseph Tidd, who is also missing an arm, was an inspiration for the defense. “Football means the world to me, but the platform it gives me for things like this takes the cake. Joseph, you are my new hero for life, ”Pickett wrote on his social networks along with a tender image of both. A friendship that even attracted the attention of FIFA itself, which invited them both to The Best gala that year.
A tireless fighter, her next challenge is on the pitch: to convince Andonovski that she deserves a place on the team that defends the title at the next World Cup in Australia 2023. First stop: Pamplona.