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Few players competing in FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 have a professional pathway as unique as Seattle Sounders left back Nouhou.

On Wednesday, Nouhou was named to Cameroon’s final roster for the World Cup. It’s the culmination of a journey that started six years ago when a then 18-year-old kid from Cameroon signed with Seattle’s second team in the USL Championship.

“It’s a big step for me,” Nouhou told SoundersFC.com about making the roster. “My family is happy; everybody is happy in Seattle as well.”

Nouhou first joined the organization when he signed with the Tacoma Defiance (formerly S2) back in 2016. After starring in the USL Championship for a season, he earned his way onto the First Team the following year. He became an instant fan favorite with his lung-busting runs down the flanks and lockdown 1-v-1 defending, always injecting energy and joy into each match.

Breakout performances in Rave Green earned Nouhou a call-up to the Cameroonian national team in 2017, a just reward for a player who left home at a young age to pursue his dreams.

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“I think it’s a big sacrifice,” Nouhou said of coming to Seattle as a teenager. “The culture and language is different. When I was coming here, my English was not so good. I was shy a little bit in the beginning, so I tried to improve my English.”

Nouhou’s meteoric rise from an intriguing talent in the USL Championship to a consistent contributor for a Cameroon side competing in the World Cup has been nothing short of spectacular. Although he’s been thousands of miles away from home, representing his country at the international level has been a special way to stay connected with his family.

“My family always enjoys watching me play, especially when I was in Cameroon playing at the [2022 African Cup,” recalled Nouhou. “They were watching me on the TV and in the stadiums, so it was very exciting for me. I think my parents don’t really like football, so when I played for Cameroon, they came one time. It was the first game against Burkina, it was the first time [they saw me play] so I was really excited, and it was really emotional for me.”

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During Cameroon’s run to a third-place finish at the 2021 African Cup of Nations, Nouhou went toe-to-toe with some of the best attacking talents in the world, often winning his individual matchups with the likes of Mo Salah and Riyad Mahrez. That experience will come in handy when Cameroon takes on group opponents Switzerland (November 24 | 2:00 a.m. PT), Serbia (November 28 | 2:00 a.m. PT), and Brazil (December 2 | 11:00 a.m. PT).

“I think everybody is talking about Brazil, but we have Switzerland and Serbia, too,” he said. “They are very strong teams. Brazil is a special team because they have so many players like Neymar, Casemiro, Thiago Silva.”

Never one to back down from a challenge, Nouhou enters the biggest tournament of his career with one goal on his mind: competing for a trophy.

“We’re going to go there and try to win the cup. It’s the objective for everyone and hopefully we have success.”

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