Soccer star Preki speaks to Ethos players . The soccer star is the new face of Sacramento Republic FC, the region's professional soccer team. Village Life photo by Julie Samrick

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Soccer star visit inspires young EDH players

By From page A1 | August 28, 2013

Ethos soccer club welcomed soccer legend and head coach of the newly formed Sacramento Republic PC professional soccer team Predrag Radosavlievic “Preki” to its second annual general meeting Thursday night.

The Serbian-born Preki is best known for scoring the game-winning goal for the United States men’s national team against Brazil in the 1998 FIFA World Cup. Before being named head coach in Sacramento, Preki, 50, led teams like Toronto FC and Chivas USA.

Ethos founder and President Fritz Libby said a pro soccer team in Sacramento would ignite more interest in the sport across the region.

“This is huge for the soccer community,” he said. “And Sacramento is lucky to get Preki. He’s a legend.”

According to the Sacramento Republic FC website, Major League Soccer plans to have 24 pro soccer teams nationwide by 2020 to make MLS as popular in the United States as it is in other parts of the world. Community outreach events such as Preki speaking in El Dorado Hills are part of building a fan base, said Libby. Several Ethos families have already purchased Sacramento Republic FC season tickets.

Libby said he invited Preki to open the meeting because the coach lives the values Ethos (meaning character) instills in its players.

“Preki is not only accomplished but a really cool guy,” said Libby. “We invited him to talk to the kids about his personal development path and how personal commitment got him to such a high level in soccer.”

Before coaching, Preki played professional soccer for 26 years, from age 16 to 42.

At the meeting in Lake Forest’s gym Preki called his career “blessed,” but said it was a lot of hard work too. He opened the casual Q&A session by talking about his earliest memory of playing soccer. He was 3 years old and used rocks as soccer balls while playing with other kids in the streets of Belgrade.

When asked if kids or adults are more difficult to coach, Preki quipped, “Parents!”

He showed some fancy footwork when cajoled and then got serious when a girl asked how it felt to score the winning goal for the United States against Brazil in 1998, the first time that had been done in 68 years.

“Moments like that don’t happen too often in your life,” he said. “You have to embrace them when they do. It was a great night.”

Julie Samrick

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