Christian Pulisic, Chelsea Top Man City
Christian Pulisic became the first American to play in a Champions League final when he came off the bench for Chelsea against Manchester City on Saturday.
He was also the first American he played in and win a European final. Chelsea triumphed 1-0 against Kai Havertz in the first half.
Pulisic, a striker from Hershey, Pennsylvania, started on the bench but took the lead with Chelsea in the 66th minute.
Just minutes later, he doubled Chelsea’s lead with a skillful shot in midfield, a 60-yard run in the dead sprint, and a shot that narrowed past the far post.
The Blues thought it was a deserved win. And Pulisic celebrated a deserved reward for perseverance in two difficult seasons at Chelsea. He fought injuries and delved into forms and banking.
But he helped Chelsea beat Real Madrid in the semi-finals and scored an American’s first goal at this stage of the competition. And now he’s European champion.
The story of the American Champions League winners
Pulisic is not the first American to win the Champions League. Jovan Kirovski won a European crown with Borussia Dortmund in 1997.
But Kirovski didn’t play in the knockout rounds – he was once an unused submarine. Pulisic is the first to make a name for himself on the biggest stage in men’s club football.
Pulisic isn’t the first American to win a Champions League final, however. Nine American women, including Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan, played in the final. Three won.
Morgan played and won with Lyon in 2017. Ali Krieger and Gina Lewandowski won with Frankfurt in 2008 when the women’s competition was named UEFA Women’s Cup.
The men’s competition, formerly known as the European Cup, has existed since 1955. It took 66 years for an American to take part in a final.
Given the amount of young talent currently playing in European clubs – Pulisic at Chelsea, Weston McKennie at Juventus, Sergiño Dest at Barcelona – it certainly won’t be another 66 years before a second is reached.
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