By Tom Dean
New Spurs signing Alex Morgan believes Landon Donovan was right to take his team off the field after one of his player was the victim of homophobic abuse.
Speaking at her first press conference since moving to England on a one-year loan from Orlando Pride, the 31-year-old expressed her full support for the actions of fellow American Donovan.
The retired USA international is now the owner-manager of San Diego Loyal and made headlines earlier in the week after pulling his team out of a USL Championship game at half time despite leading Phoenix Rising 3-1.
Touchline footage showed Donovan explaining to the referee that homophobic remarks had been directed at openly-gay Loyal midfielder Collin Martin and that his team would not continue playing unless action was taken.
And Morgan spoke very highly of Donovan as the Women’s Super League continues to kneel in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and discrimination in football this season.
“I have always respected Landon Donovan as a player and as a person,” said the two-time World Cup winner.
“He has grown the club [San Diego Loyals] over the past year or two and it has been great to see him travelling with the squad and being outspoken about the team’s beliefs.
“I respect them so much for deciding not to play the remainder of the game and I think that is the right decision.
“When watching the video of Landon speaking with the opposing coach you see that there is so much progress that we still have to make.
“The things we see and hear today have no place in football and it was so great to see them step off the pitch.
“My heart goes out to the player that was the victim of the homophobic slur and I hope he feels as though he belongs in football.”
Morgan was addressing the media for the first time as a Spurs player on Friday evening and explained that although joining the club was last minute, the seed was planted for the move more than a year ago.
Having visited the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and trained at Enfield with the USWNT last summer, the forward explained how impressed she was with the facilities and started following the club as a result.
With 107 goals in 169 international appearances Morgan is renowned for her goals but has not played a competitive match for over 400 days following a knee injury and the birth of her daughter Charlie in May this year.
Spurs face Manchester City on Sunday, who also boast two new World Cup winners in Sam Mewis and Rose Lavelle, but Morgan was quick to rule herself out of starting her first league game so soon.
“There were so many factors that came into play but one of the biggest things was honestly coming here pre-World Cup and just being able to see the facilities last summer,” said Morgan, who’s last English opponent was as a Lyon player against Manchester City back in 2017.
“When I started really considering joining, just having a discussion with Juan Amoros and Karen Hills, the head-coaches of the club, and seeing their passion for the growth of the club, it sparked a level of excitement that made me want to be a part of something like this.”
“I have to look at the length of time I have been out, my body needs to get back to full fitness. We’ve really had a flexible play, starting from the first day I was here, looking at when I can get my first game and minutes.
“Nobody wants me in a game more than myself, it has been about a year since I’ve competed in a match so I’m really eager to get on the field.”
Morgan is a brand as much as she is a footballer these days and boasts more Instagram followers than any other player in the world with almost 10 million.
Spurs have made no secret of their desire to tap into the American sports market and have even built an NFL-quality American Football field under the pitch at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
It certainly feels as though Morgan can help them in that quest and that Spurs have not just signed a player but a mother, author, model mogul and a global icon.
Now it’s a case of ‘what is good for Spurs is good for the WSL’ with the buzz around the league seemingly growing by the day.
“I think something I’ve really noticed with the WSL is the growth of every individual club to create something which is competitive across the board, she said.
“TheWSL has been a popular topic, always gaining popularity over the last few years.
“You’re not seeing just Man City, Chelsea, and Arsenal, but teams like Man United and Spurs coming into the top division, teams like Reading doing really well, there’s a lot of clubs putting a lot of resources in and that’s what I respect a lot about this league.”
Behind all of the success there is also room for a bit of humour and Morgan has made herself synonymous with tea-drinking in these parts after celebrating her goal against England at the World Cup last summer by pretending to sip on a cuppa’.
She has however already ruled out any repeat offences – so we won’t be seeing her on the PG Tips adverts any time soon.
“You won’t be seeing the tea celebration,” she joked. “I told my teammates they can do the tea celebration but I am going to take a step back from that one.”