PHILADELPHIA — After an eventful journey in Europe, Fafa Picault was excited to sign with the Philadelphia Union earlier this month, in large part so he could once again play in front of family and friends. That latter group also happens to include a very famous former NFL wide receiver.
As it turns out, since they both hail from Miami, Picault is pretty good pals with avowed soccer fan Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson. So he’s expecting the ex-football star to come cheer him on in Philly.
“Chad’s my man,” Picault told MLSsoccer.com on Monday after a Union training session. “Chad’s a big brother. Every time I’m back in Miami, we spend quite a bit of time together.”
Picault, who was born in New York City and moved to South Florida when he was eight years old, said he met Johnson at an indoor facility called Urban Soccer Five in Miami. They hit it off immediately and stayed in close contact, even during Picault’s recent tenure with FC St. Pauli in Germany. The two FaceTimed and playing video games together whenever they could.
“He’s a big soccer fanatic,” Picault said. “We played a lot of indoor soccer together, a lot of FIFA. I’m sure anyone who follows him on Twitter knows how much he loves FIFA – and McDonald’s. He’s a cool guy, a really humble guy, with a big heart.”
I'm playing indoor in Kendall at Golazo w/ @Fafagoal23 & I've gotten really good, I should text Mourinho— Chad Johnson (@ochocinco) June 24, 2016
So how many Union games does the new Philadelphia winger expect the eccentric receiver who coined the phrases “Child please” and “Kiss the baby” to attend?
“Hopefully I can get him out here a few times this year,” Picault said.
I'll be there boss & congrats 🙌🏾 https://t.co/s5rCFHnnrZ— Chad Johnson (@ochocinco) February 3, 2017
Playing stateside may come with other benefits for the 25-year-old Picault, who parlayed a great season with the NASL’s Fort Lauderdale Strikers in 2014 into overseas stints with AC Sparta Prague and then FC. St. Pauli. And it was in St. Pauli where he caught the attention of former US national team Jurgen Klinsmann, who called him up for a USMNT friendly vs. Puerto Rico last May.
But Picault is looking for a lot more than just one USMNT cap — and he believes a Union team that features several players in the current national team pool can help him accomplish that.
“Besides wanting to go as deep as we can in the playoffs, I’m also a person ambitious to get back to the national team,” he said. “Speaking to the staff, that’s definitely one of my individual goals. And I know the only way I can get back into doing is by performing well and helping the team as much as I can.”