“You’re going to have a rollercoaster of emotions when you’re out from playing for a prolonged period. The mental aspect is probably the toughest part, not so much the physical endurance of trying to get back.”

Lee Nguyen

What You will learn

  • How different countries and cultures affected Lee’s career in different ways.
  • How Lee eventually landed on a specific training regimen and diet after experimenting with many kinds over his career.
  • How your age and where you are at in your career will affect the rehab process.

Soccer is the world’s game. Have you ever wondered how each country and their culture influence soccer? Or how the opportunities to play in multiple countries influence how a pro soccer player develops throughout their career? In this episode professional soccer player Lee Nguyen shares his international journey and offers insight into how he approached his development, training, and rehab over his career.

Lee is a former 17-year professional soccer player. Lee’s success started early in his career earning National Player of the Year both as a senior in high school and a freshman at Indiana University. Lee began his professional career internationally playing for PSV Eindhoven in the Dutch soccer league, Randers FC in the Danish Superliga, and multiple teams in the Vietnamese League 1. Lee returned to the States to play in Major League Soccer with stints at Vancouver Whitecaps, New England Revolution, Inter Miami, and LAFC. During his career Lee also made 9 appearances for the US Men’s National Team.

Following his playing career, Lee began his journey to becoming a pro soccer coach and most recently was an assistant coach for the 2021 NWSL Champions, Washington Spirit. He still has an itch to play and will be participating in the inaugural TST – The Soccer Tournament – a 7v7 tournament with a million-dollar prize for the winning team.

Lee is someone I enjoy talking to because he is competitive, a deep thinker, and a thoughtful individual. Lee talks about how he became a good pro by observing other good pros. How he learned how to experiment with different diets, training, or rehab strategies to figure out what worked best for him. He also shares some personal stories on what impacted some of his decisions to keep playing or retire.  I hope you enjoy this conversation and appreciate the perspective that Lee brings to us.

Listen here – Finding Small Wins Podcast:

012 | Lee Nguyen: A Professional Soccer Player’s International Journey

Notable Quotes

“Become a professional by observing other professionals – ask a lot of questions and find a mentor early on in your career.”

Lee Nguyen

“Everyone knows what you’re doing and how you act as a professional; people see you, going out and having a drink the night before a game, that’s going to get back to your coaches.”

Lee Nguyen

Key Takeaways:

[2:23] What career path led Lee into professional soccer?

[3:29] Lee was in Vietnam when COVID began, and the season had to be canceled.

[5:33] Lee talks about participating in the  TST: The Soccer Tournament.

[10:37] Cultural differences in training in different countries.

[11:54] How do different cultures train off the field?

[15:41] What is the best professional athlete Lee can be?

[16:37] Lee emphasizes the value of efficiency and preparedness for a professional athlete and explains how he prepared to be a professional athlete.

[20:32] Has Lee ever tried a change in lifestyle or nutrition plan?

[21:45]  What advice would Lee tell himself 10-15 years ago?

[23:27] What things worked for Lee in train and rehab?

[25:51] How did Lee approach the rehab process when he was going through an injury?

[29:06] How has the business aspect influenced some of the decisions regarding rehab times?

[31:44] Lee shares the importance of considering your value as a player and your contribution to the Team.

[33:25] Lee describes what trust looks like in professional sports, specifically in the rehab space.

[35:56] Adam talks about the three different kinds of players.

[36:32] Lee talks about the value of building healthy habits early on in a professional athlete’s career.

[39:39] How would Lee approach the case when an athlete refuses to try a new training plan?

[42:58] As a player, how does someone build trust when they come into the locker room?

[45:12] Has Lee ever found himself in a situation with a misconception about being a pro athlete?

[49:00] How does Lee’s life as a pro athlete affect his personal life?

[51:38] Lee advises about the importance of communication and keeping realistic expectations when balancing personal and professional goals.

[53:19] How does Lee define small wins?

[56:39]  How do you find your small wins when the morale is down, the culture’s down, and the team is losing?

[58:56] Lee’s advice with everyday people regarding how to find small wins.

[1:01:43] Lee talks about his new career as a coach that is just beginning.

[1:03:15] For anyone trying to improve their performance: Seek a professional (and also trial and error).

[1:06:01] What was Lee’s favorite city to live in as a player?

[1:06:38] What was Lee’s favorite stadium?

[1:07:31 Lee shares memorable highlights from his career.

[1:08:01] Lee shares one of the most memorable moments behind the scenes.

[1:08:49] What was Lee’s favorite goal-scoring celebration?

[1:09:23] What is next in Lee’s career?

Adam Loiacono

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