This bicycle kick shot by LA Galaxy’s Chris Klein during the final minutes of the Superlinga Final against Pachuka sent the game into overtime. It was a goal celebrated around the world.
Still Chris, if he’s performing like this, or not performing very well, maintains he plays for an audience of one.
"And it wasn’t until I was a professional for a few years did I realize that there was more to what I was doing, actually out on the soccer field than just trying to earn a new contract or trying to earn praise from my coach or from the fans or to get my name in the news paper. It was really about glorifying Godm," he says.
And when I realized that, my life and my career completely changed. I can’t even describe to you the feeling about going out and playing for Jesus. That feeling means more than anything in the entire world to me."
Selected in the first round of the 1998 college draft, Chris played eight seasons with the Kansas City Wizards where he remains second in club history with 39 goals and 45 assists. A four-time Major League Soccer All Star selection, Chris was traded to real Salt Lake where he played a year-and-a half before coming to Los Angeles.
"My greatest moment, personally as an athlete is winning a championship in 2000 with the Kansas City Wizards. I think that sometimes people make the mistake saying, 'Oh he’s a Christian, he doesn’t care about winning or he doesn’t care about being intense.' "
"But what I ’m out here to do, I ’m out here to glorify God and I want to win," he adds. "So winning a championship in this league with the team in Kansas City was probably my greatest moment."
For Chris, the 2000 Wizards MLS Club championship was followed by injury. Two knee surgeries later, he understands the reasons for being sidelined.
"And through those injuries, I have been able to talk to more people about my faith through those injuries, than I ever have scoring any goal or playing any championship. People want to know how is it that you can spend five hours a day rehabbing with a smile on your face and really enjoy it?"
Married to his college sweetheart, Angela, Chris realizes his performance on the field is ultimately a witness to his family also.
"She was really the person who introduced me to Jesus. The way she lives an authentic faith every single day is a model for me when I leave the house and when I come home. She does a very good job of keeping me in check, " he says of his wife.
Another person who keeps Chris in check is Ray Caldwell, a chaplain with Athletes in Action. Chris has had quite an impact on the LA Galaxy’s Bible study.
"He brings a real sense of maturity in his faith, in his professional career. He’s a journeyman, he’s been in the league many years, played with Kansas City, Real Salt Lake, and now here with the Galaxy, so he brings that sense of maturity that I think a lot of the younger guys look up to," says Ray.
"For me, it’s about serving. And really using that model of Jesus that He came to serve. And I try to do that with the guys. I’m not a guy that’s real boisterous and will get out and scream. I try to encourage others and lead by example. Whether it’s getting a cup of coffee for someone in the morning, I try to let his light shine through me to other guys so there’s a possibility that they may ask me what it is inside me that makes me tick or makes me who I am," says Chris.
Into his eleventh season, Chris faces the future as a 31-year-old Major League soccer player with humility. He won’t stop giving it all he’s got, but he also knows there’s more.
"Everytime I take a moment with the Lord, Ipray that I can give everything I have for him. And there are many times that I messed up during a game, and there are times when you have moments of brilliance. We’re here for a bigger purpose ... to glorify Him. So that's what really drives me. And also when you come out and see your two young children standing there, you know there’s more to this life than just a soccer game."
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