Jozy Altidore: Soon to be hot cake?

While anyone with the faintest of interests in matters football will give a knowing chuckle or sad shake of head at the mention of former American wunderkind Freddy Adu, most wouldn’t know what to make of Jozy Altidore. The last time they probably heard of the American striker was during the 2009 Confederations Cup when he scored as the USA thumped Spain 2-0. Or when he was at the centre of yet another nasty racism incident in January, persuading the match officials not to stop the game despite the chants being directed at him. As a side note, Jozy had the last laugh as he not only scored twice during that match against the mockers’ beloved Den Bosch, he went on to become the KNVB-Beker tournament’s top scorer. And he netted the winning goal as his team, AZ Alkmaar, won the trophy. Clearly it pays to pray for your enemies as Jozy promised he would.

All in all the New Jersey native has had a sterling season; the best he’s enjoyed in Europe by his own admission. Though his AZ Alkmaar finished tenth in the Eredivisie table, a massive 37 points behind winners Amsterdam Ajax, Altidore scored an incredible 31 goals in all competitions. His 23 in the Eredivisie made him the league’s fourth top scorer. And despite being a much-travelled professional, he’s still only just 23 years of age.  If he seems to have been around for donkey’s years, it’s probably because, like his ever-declining age-mate Adu, he shot to recognition fairly early in life. Two years after breaking the MLS record for the youngest ever player to score in the play-offs a few days before his 17th birthday, he signed for Villarreal. But he was subsequently sent out on a series of loan deals all over Europe before Alkmaar rode to his rescue with a four-year deal in the summer of 2011.

The investment now seems to be coming good with the American striker’s hot streak showing no signs of abating. However, reports have been made of overtures from a number of European clubs, with some even sending scouts to peep into his training sessions. As the Cheese Farmers plot on how to hang on to their prized finisher, Jozy will no doubt be looking to prove to Villarreal and all the other clubs that thought he didn’t make the cut that he is now the finished article.