Reggie Bush wasn't wearing his Super Bowl ring when he turned up to be interviewed by FIFA.com. Instead, the New Orleans Saints running back was proudly sporting a Nelson Mandela Foundation armband. The NFL superstar has been in Johannesburg for some days now, supporting the USA national team as part of an adidas programme.
Bush talked to FIFA.com about his impressions of South Africa, the 2010 FIFA World Cup™, and who he thinks will lift the famous trophy.
FIFA.com: Reggie, you’ve been here in South Africa for a few days. What’s made the biggest impression on you so far?
Reggie Bush: We’re guests of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, where we’ve been learning all about the organisation’s community work. That's why I’m wearing the foundation armband, which aims to raise awareness of AIDS and HIV. Nelson Mandela is a leading figure in South Africa and has done so much for his country. Just being there was a fantastic experience for me.
As an American Football pro, do you see any similarities with football?
There are lots of parallels, especially in terms of team spirit and the sense of belonging to a unit. In both sports, you need all eleven players to win. No-one can win a game on his own. One player might score the decisive goal, but you need all eleven players to create the possibility of scoring.
Can you remember when your first experience of football?
I got my hands on a ball for the first time in elementary school. We often played football at recess. It was real fun, we just kicked the ball around the neighbourhood. Yes, I really enjoyed it.
Does a superstar like yourself have a favourite player?
I got to know David Beckham personally a while back. He’s a tremendous athlete, and an even better person. His personality and his knowledge make him what he is. Unfortunately, he’s injured and can’t play at this World Cup, so I’d name Jozy Altidore as my favourite player here in South Africa.
You and the New Orleans Saints won the Super Bowl in February. Is that comparable to winning the World Cup in football?
Definitely. It's the greatest possible achievement in both sports. Obviously, you can win trophies with your club, but the World Cup is something very special. In both cases, you have the feeling of being part of something extraordinary and having played in front of the eyes of the whole world. It's something you’ll never forget for the whole of your life.
USA are through to the Round of 16, where they meet Ghana. How far can the US go now?
At this stage of the tournament, I’m expecting the team to improve from game to game. Every match is like a final: you win, or you go home. The team has to go out there and give everything and play as a unit, but also enjoy themselves.
A last question: Who’ll win the FIFA World Cup?
The USA will be world champions. We’re a proud nation, and we have some great players. We’re the underdogs and most people have written us off. But once you’re in this situation, you start getting hungrier and hungrier, especially when no-one thinks you can win it.