Football

Ethiopia's American boy

Updated 3:42 PM ET, Sat January 26, 2013
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The 2013 Africa Cup of Nations kicks off in South Africa on Saturday. It is one of the world's most exciting tournaments including players who ply their trade in some of Europe's top leagues. Among them is Fuad Ibrahim, a young American striker who once played for the U.S Under-17 and Under-20 teams. Drew Hallowell/Getty Images
Ibrahim, seen here lining up for Toronto in the MLS, has been chosen to play for the Ethiopia national team at the Africa Cup of Nations. Getty Images
According to Thomas Rongen, who was then the coach of the U.S. Under-20 team, Ibrahim was one of the most talented young players to come through the national set up. But things did not work out and, after dropping down to the NASL with his hometown club the Minnesota Stars, Ibrahim was released at the end of last season. Teresita Chavarria/AFP
Despite being a free agent Ibrahim was contacted by the Ethiopian Football Federation to see whether he would like to play for the country of his birth. After thinking about it, he agreed and joined the team's training camp in Addis Ababa. AFP/Getty Images
As a newcomer, and someone who doesn't speak much of the language, Ibrahim had to win his squad mates over. His first start was against Tanzania, where he scored in a 2-1 victory.
Ethiopia's qualification for the Africa Cup of Nations is not the only football success that the country is enjoying. They have secured four points in their first two 2014 World Cup qualification matches, including a 1-1 draw against South Africa. Getty Images Sport
The image most people have of Ethiopia is of the devastating famine in the mid-1980s that killed millions of people. Ibrahim's family survived and left for the U.S. in the 1990s for a better life and more opportunities for their young son. Hulton Archive
Ibrahim is not the first U.S. soccer star to move abroad. National teams across the world, including Palestine, Haiti and Afghanistan, have tapped into their American diasporas to bolster their squads. Omar Jarun (pictured center, who was born in Kuwait to an American mother and Palestinian father, was raised in Georgia but now plays for the Palestinian national soccer team. James Montague