BRIAN SCIARETTA - Friday, March 16, 2012
Jurgen Klinsmann may soon have another central defender in his player pool as Middlesbrough central defender Seb Hines indicates he would be willing to play for the United States
Hines, 23, returned from an ankle injury during the second half of the season and has earned very positive reviews for his recent play. The club now sits in fourth place in the English Championship and is in the hunt for promotion to the Premier League.
Hines' professional debut came in the Premier League with Middlesbroughin 2007 and he has been with the club since he was only 14. He now is looking to bring the club back to the top division.
"It's everyone's dream when they're a kid to play at the top level," Hines told YA. "The Premier League is the highest level and I'd love to play there against the best players in the world. Hopefully we can get there this season."
"Last year was disappointing but this year we've done really well," he added. "We've got a young side and we're all eager to win and bring success to Middleborough again."
As a young player, Hines was a standout with English youth national teams at both the U-16, U-17, and U-19 levels. He played in European qualifiers at those age groups but injuries prevented him from playing in the finals.
Hines has suffered multiple injuries in his past but with him now fully fit, he is eager to return not just to the Premier League but to the international game as well. Only this time it could be with the United States.
Hines has had an American passport since birth by virtue of his father. His father is from North Carolina but served in the United States military. While stationed in Germany he met Seb's mother, who is from England, on a trip to Spain.
Hines was born in England but lived in the United States for two years when he was a young child. He later returned to England.
Hines is still very much in contact with his American family in North Carolina and he cites his father as a huge influence on his career.
"We go back to North Carolina during the offseason every year to see family," Hines said. "We are planning to go back this summer because all of my father's family lives there. My father is the only one currently in England."
Hines has never heard from US Soccer but he is very much open to playing for the US national team in the future if he is invited by Jurgen Klinsmann. Such a move would require him to file his one-time switch with FIFA and Hines says that he is willing to do that.
"Obviously it would be amazing to be a part of the setup for the United States," Hines stated emphatically. "I watched them against Italy and they were terrific. We have a lot of American players that are here in England as well like Tim Howard and Clint Dempsey."
Hines' agent Matthew Southall also stressed that his client is eager to play if asked.
"We have not had contact with US Soccer yet," Southall said. "But Seb is very willing to play for the United States if asked."
Hines and Middlesbrough visit Birmingham City this weekend.