Landon Donovan tells 7,000 fans at Club Leon unveiling: 'I won't fail'
LEON, Mexico -- Landon Donovan was presented in front of around 7,000 Club Leon fans on Monday evening in Estadio Leon and wasted no time in setting the bar high for his time in Liga MX.
"I'm here to play, win games and be champion," said Donovan in Spanish, to rapturous applause.
The 35-year-old came out of retirement to sign a contract with Leon until next December in a surprising move, considering Donovan's last game for LA Galaxy was back in November 2016.
But despite admitting he'll need time to get match-fit and isn't sure when he'll debut, failure in what is likely to be his last stint as a professional is not an option.
"Being human you actually have fear of failure and that was one of the first things that came to mind [when the opportunity came up]," said the former U.S. international in a news conference.
"I know that if I commit myself to this there is no chance of failure so it's incumbent on me to make sure I commit myself."
"If I come and do it halfway, I could fail. If I do it three-quarters of the way with my age, I could fail. If I do it all-in with all my heart, I won't fail."
Donovan stressed that he always wanted to play in Mexico and that he grew up in California playing as a youth with Mexicans, which he said helped shape his style of play.
The move to bring Donovan to Leon happened quickly, with the forward admitting that only a week ago he said he wasn't interested in the move to Mexico. After thinking it through and then visiting Leon last Wednesday, Donovan said he was convinced coming out of retirement was the right thing to do.
"I wasn't at home thinking about playing," said Donovan. "I was watching football and loving it. But when a special opportunity comes up, you have to be open to it.
"When I came here I felt something very special."
.@landondonovan: I'm here to play, win games and be champion ... Like I said in twitter, I don't believe in walls. I always wanted to play in Mexico. I grew up playing with Mexicans #ligamxeng pic.twitter.com/rPEKohLDng— Tom Marshall (@mexicoworldcup) January 16, 2018
Donovan spoke to former or current U.S. internationals Marcelo Balboa, DaMarcus Beasley and Omar Gonzalez about coming to Mexico before making his decision and will move down to Leon with his family.
The former Everton forward will use the No. 20 shirt at Leon, although Donovan said it had nothing to do with "dos a cero," a common chant from U.S. fans towards Mexico's faithful after a series of 2-0 victories for the Stars and Stripes.
"I always wanted the No. 10 shirt," said Donovan. "When I started with the national team Claudio Reyna used the 10 and I had to choose another and that's why I picked the 20. It is my second favorite number."
"Obviously after I'd chosen [No. 20] a friend of mine sent me a text asking if it was for the dos a cero and I told him no, but it is quite funny, although it's not that funny because now we aren't in the World Cup!
"[The shirt number] could be a joke, but the biggest joke is that Mexico is in the World Cup and we aren't."
Donovan joins a club that has started the 2018 Clausura perfectly, with two wins from its first two matches.
Tom Marshall covers Liga MX and the Mexican national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @MexicoWorldCup.