It has been almost a couple weeks since this was a story, but Thursday marked the first time reporters talked to Sounders FC’s Eddie Johnson since his “Pay me!” goal celebration after a 1-0 road win against the Columbus Crew on Aug. 31.
The forward left for the national team after that game — scoring another header in Crew Stadium to help the U.S. advance to the World Cup — but he is back in Seattle and explained his rationale for the controversial celebration.
“Sometimes as an athlete or as a human being you go through so much in your life, and no one is perfect,” Johnson said. “It wasn’t anything about me trying to come at the club, just sometimes different people have different upbringings. In my sake, I don’t come from a lot. I come from a mom who was a single mom — I’m one of three — and my whole thing in playing this sport and being a father of two is being able to provide for all of them. When you work hard in life, sometimes you just want to be rewarded. But at the same time you have to be patient. I guess it was the first thing that came to my mind, but that’s behind me. I came off Twitter because a lot of the fans didn’t like that, but just for the fans, I’m happy here in Seattle. I couldn’t be happier to be in a professional environment playing with great players and in a professional organization.”
Johnson also noted the uncertainty of life as a professional athlete, where a potential serious injury is always just around the corner.
“At the end of the day, when you’re playing your best, you want to try and capitalize on it,” he said. “I keep reiterating to (GM Adrian Hanauer), to (coach Sigi Schmid) and to (sporting director) Chris Henderson, all those guys know my heart is here and I’m happy in Seattle. The success I’m having on the field is just a credit to those guys giving me a second chance to do what I love to do and that’s play soccer.”