He cuts an unmistakable figure on the TV screen, Marcus Hahnemann. Big, broad-shouldered and bald.
He cuts an unmistakable figure on the TV screen, Marcus Hahnemann. Big, broad-shouldered and bald. In a close-up, viewers get a glimpse of this swashbuckling goalkeeper’s goatee and perhaps his orange contact lenses. He’s one-of-a-kind and a Seattle native son.

A three-time All-American at Seattle Pacific, Hahnemann went on to play for the Sounders before progressing to Major League Soccer, the U.S. national team and now one of the most popular players for Reading of the English Premier League. Hahnemann suffered a broken hand in the final game of last season. He immediately returned to the U.S. for surgery in Colorado. Eighteen screws and two plates were implanted yet he never missed a single game.

The injury sidelined you for the summer. Then you open with defending champion Manchester United. How did you feel that day?

I played in the final preseason game against Wolves and sucked. Then they arranged two more friendly games. I was still pretty tentative. Sure enough there was a 50-50 ball that I needed to come out for and get munched. That contact gave me a lot of confidence. Still, going into Man U I hadn’t done anything and right away Wayne Rooney comes running at me on a breakaway. He goes to touch it around my right side, which is my broken hand. So I go to dive and as he’s kicking the ball I stick my right hand out there to get a block. As the ball goes away, I look at my hand and go, ‘Oh, it’s still on.’

In your career, what’s your most memorable game as a player?

Actually that Man United game this year was pretty special. I ended up getting man of match. I made a ridiculous amount of saves and we ended up drawing nil-nil, which was pretty special because we were down to 10 men as well.

What’s your most memorable game as a spectator?

Well, I was on the bench for a pretty memorable Italy game at the World Cup. We got a draw that was pretty impressive. I don’t get a chance to see many games, but last year I went to the Chelsea-Arsenal league cup final along with my dad and some friends. We had a fantastic time.

How does this season’s start compare to a year ago, your first in the Premiership?

It seems like it’s so much harder, but we have the same number of points. It doesn’t quite make sense. We don’t have an away win, so that’s a concern. The one game that cost is Sunderland away where we dropped the ball. We’ve had a couple crazy results as well.

What’s the relationship with Reading fans and players?

It’s really good and fairly supportive crowd. We don’t have the diehards like Newcastle or any of the bigger teams that have been around. Granted, our team’s been around but this is the first time in the top flight; we don’t have that history. We have a lot of neutral fans who just come out to watch Premier League games, but it’s changing. People who used to support the big teams now say they’re Reading supporters. You’ll see that in Seattle now, guys walking around wearing Man United shirts. It’s inevitable. But that will change in a couple years.

Are you treated like a star in Reading?

That’s changed a lot in the last year or two. You get recognized so much more. It’s a pretty small town and people are pretty reserved. You see kids recognizing you, saying, ‘There goes Marcus.’ But usually that’s it.

In the past you’ve opened your home to other American players on Thanksgiving. What about this year?

Last year’s one was kind of crazy, with over 20 people here and we were planning on doing that again. We had two 18-pound birds and both Amanda and I had family coming over. Then I heard that we’re leaving Thursday for the game at Manchester City. So we moved Thanksgiving up to Wednesday and decided to have turkey sandwiches for lunch on Thursday before I left. We had two thanksgivings so it’s actually pretty good.

What do Brits tend to say about our holiday?

They say, ‘What is it ? It’s like your Christmas?’ They think it is bigger than Christmas, if that makes sense. No, I say it’s just a time to reflect on what we’re thankful for. It’s like Oktoberfest in Germany. They go, ‘Oh, OK.’ It’s the only way to describe it.

Have you given much thought to the next 2-3 years?

You mean 2009? We’ll have to see what Kasey (Keller) wants to do. All the players who have come over here and wanted to test ourselves at the highest level, they eventually want to go back home. I had always wanted to play a couple years in Seattle if they were going to get a team. And now it’s pretty nice to know there’s an MLS team there.

How will the MLS team impact Seattle?

I think everyone’s excited. It will be great for youth soccer. Now you’re going to have the top team playing in the best league in America. I was online and going to buy my season tickets, but I got distracted and went on eBay or something. But I’ll do it. And even thought you didn’t ask, here’s my answer: The name of the team has got to be the Sounders.



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