With over 100 caps, goalkeeper Kasey Keller has seen it all and done it all for USA. With four FIFA World Cups™ under his belt, the globetrotting custodian has played for clubs in England, Spain and Germany and is, according to many, the greatest in a long line of fine American shot-stoppers.
Now 38 and alongside a raft of compatriots at Premier League side Fulham in his spiritual home of London (he also played for Millwall and Tottenham Hotspur), the native of Washington state is currently phasing himself out of the national team in a state of what he describes as "unofficial, semi-retirement."
"The last time I talked to coach Bob Bradley I told him: 'I'm available if you need me," Keller told FIFA.com in downtown Durban, South Africa, where the keeper is one of the honorary ball pullers for the Preliminary Draw to South Africa 2010 on Sunday 25 November.
Alongside such greats as George Weah, Marcel Dessaily, Abedi Pele, Lucas Redebi, Christian Karembeu and Ali Daei, Keller is the only Draw Assistant who is still an active player. Even still, he insists that statistic does not make him feel old. "Actually, I'm older than some of those guys on the stage and I'm still playing," he said with a laugh. "So that makes me feel pretty good about the whole thing."
Available to turn up for the draw due to an unfortunate injury suffered after starting the current season brilliantly at Craven Cottage, Keller is hoping to be the good luck charm for his beloved USA when the balls start dropping into pots for the CONACACAF zone.
"We'll be seeded and Mexico will be seeded so we won't have to worry about meeting them early on," he remarked. "But there are still some tough teams you don't want to meet like Costa Rica, Honduras and even Panama and some of the improving island sides."
Insisting that the CONCACAF region has improved by leaps and bounds since he started with the US nearly 20 years ago, Keller is convinced USA are now the top power in the region.
"We've had the edge on Mexico of late and I'd have to say that going on recent form we're the ones to beat," he said, before adding that "home field advantage counts for a lot in our region, though. They win at their place and we win at ours."
One of the crowning moments in Keller's outstanding career is surely the 1998 CONCACAF Gold Cup 1-0 win over Brazil. His superb reflexes stunned Brazil icon Romario time and again, prompting the diminutive goal machine to remark: "that was the greatest performance I have ever seen by a goalkeeper."
Keller can not help but smile when reminded of it. "As a goalkeeper, you know you played well when your team wins," he said with admirable humility. "To be able to play a competitive, CONCACAF game against a World Cup winning side and a former golden boot winner and win the game made it an amazing day for me."
"Also, to get a compliment like that from one of the greatest scorers ever to play is something I take a lot of pride in as a goalkeeper," he concluded with a justifiably satisfied grin.
To see the complete FIFA.com video interview with Kasey Keller, click on the link to the right.