Jozy Altidore mourns loss of mentor
Jozy Altidore has said Sunderland's 3-1 win over Tottenham in the Barclays Asia Trophy on Wednesday was the toughest of his life after he had learned of the death of the coach who discovered him.
Altidore, 23, played in the match in Hong Kong a day after learning that Josef Schulz had died of cancer at the age of 61.
Schulz discovered Altidore as an eight-year-old playing in Florida, and told the forward's father then that his son would one day play for the United States national team.
Altidore, coached by Schulz at the Boca Raton Soccer Club and the Schulz Soccer Academy before joining the New York Red Bulls, told the Sunderland Echo: "For me, it was always going to be a difficult game.
"It was probably the hardest game of my life because, on Tuesday, I had some bad news. The guy who got me into football lost his fight with cancer.
"Everything I've known has come from him, so it was a really difficult game - but I was happy that I could play and show the guys that I'm committed.
"That was the biggest thing for me, to show I care and that I’m committed. I’m a private guy... I haven't really talked about it. But these guys have been working so hard that I owed it to them to go out on the pitch and give something to them."
Altidore, who missed a chance to put his name on the scoresheet against Spurs, was encouraged by his side’s performance.
"As you can see, the players have been working really hard together, and obviously it's a very pivotal time," he added. "We do look dangerous with some of the movement going forward.
"There are some encouraging signs, without a doubt. Whenever you beat a team like Spurs it's a positive, even if it is a friendly."