Pulisic nicknamed 'Figo' due to love for Real Madrid, reveals U.S. star's father

The Borussia Dortmund midfielder is making a name for himself in both the U.S. and Europe, after rising to the top at the young age of 18.


Christian Pulisic may have grown up in a small town in the United States, but he was raised idolising one of Europe's biggest teams and their biggest star.

Coming from a soccer background, with his father Mark being a former player himself, Pulisic followed Real Madrid as a child and based his game after midfielder Luis Figo.

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"I called him Figo from a young age, as we watched Real Madrid a lot during those years," Mark Pulisic told Goal. "He liked the way Figo played, so I bought him a jersey with Figo's name on it."

Now, American children are wearing jerseys with Pulisic's name on their back, after the U.S. international rose to the top of soccer at the age of 18.

Dortmund star Pulisic, who on Wednesday was named as the third best teenager on the planet in Goal's NxGn list, moved to Germany at 15 to pursue his dreams of becoming a professional player, and three years later he is starting in the Champions League. Mark Pulisic admits it wasn't an easy decision to move across the Atlantic Ocean, but it was a necessary step for Christian to reach his true potential.

"My wife and I were concerned of course, but me coming with him very much helped all of us." Mark said. "This made our decision much easier."

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Pulisic had offers to play for several European clubs, according to his father, but Dortmund stood out most to the family after their initial trip to the Bundesliga club.

"Our first visit made Christian feel very welcome at Dortmund," Mark said. "Lars [Ricken] and Eddie [Boekamp] were very influential, but most important was the former youth coach Hannes Wolf. He helped Christian get accustomed to his new life, as a coach and friend, both on and off the field."

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And the first-team coach at the time, Jurgen Klopp, was the man who gave Pulisic the chance to train with some of the best players on the planet. 

"Jurgen was great for my son, giving him the opportunity to train with the first team at 17," Mark said. "That experience helped his development and confidence."

Mark added: "Christian now is fully integrated with the first team, he has good friends on the team, and is well respected and enjoying his experience."

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Pulisic was rumoured to follow Klopp to Liverpool, but Mark doesn't see his son leaving Dortmund anytime soon. Pulisic recently signed an extension with the club through 2020, and he has found success this season, scoring five goals while making 31 appearances in all competitions.

"He just signed an extension, so that shows he believes this is the right fit," Mark said. "Dortmund is the perfect club. He loves Borussia Dortmund.

"Right now, (Dortmund coach) Thomas Tuchel is a good fit for Christian, that is why he wants to stay here."

Pulisic is certainly set up for success in Europe, but he still has a way to go before he reaches the same level as his childhood role model Figo. And Mark is quick to point out that Christian is still very young, and he's still taking things one step at a time.

"Let's remember, he's still growing and developing physically as he just turned 18, so it is nice to see him get through this time on an upward curve," Mark said. "Credit this development to Dortmund ... they took the proper steps to ensure Christian was ready for each step towards the first team."