Wednesday (England), Derby County (England), West Ham United (England),
DC United (MLS - USA), New England Revolution (MLS - USA),
Columbus Crew (MLS - USA), Nottingham Forest (England)
John Harkes (born March 8, 1967 in Kearny, New Jersey) was a
talented American soccer player. A mainstay of the United States
national soccer team for most of the 1990s, he became known as "Captain
for Life" with 90 career appearances on the team.
After playing soccer at the University of Virginia, he began his
professional career at Sheffield Wednesday in 1990. In 1993, he
became the only American to score in a League Cup Final in a 2-1
loss to Arsenal. That goal was also the first one ever scored by
an American at Wembley Stadium. Harkes then went on to play for
English teams Derby County and West Ham United.
John Harkes played in the 1990 and 1994 World Cups and was
controversially cut from the team weeks before the 1998
tournament by national team coach Steve Sampson.
Sadly, Harkes may be well-known for the Andrés Escobar own goal
which resulted in the Colombian defender's death in a shooting
weeks later, from the 1994 World Cup first-round match. Harkes
delivered a cross from the left aimed at Earnie Stewart, which
Escobar attempted to clear, and in the attempt, sent the ball
past his goalkeeper. While Escobar was charged with the own-goal,
some sports fans would credit Harkes for the goal because of his
In 1996, John Harkes returned to America to be captain for D.C.
United in their inaugural season. That year he led the team to a
Major League Soccer championship and a U.S. Open Cup win. With
Harkes at the helm, D.C. United successfully defended their MLS
title the following year. He later played with the New England
Revolution, Columbus Crew, and English squad Nottingham Forest.
In 2003, John Harkes announced his retirement from professional
soccer. He is currently the director of youth development for
D.C. United and acts as a color commentator for soccer
broadcasts in the United States. His autobiography, titled
Captain for Life (ISBN 188694749X) was co-written with Denise
Kiernan and published in 1999.
Harkes was elected to the National Soccer Hall of Fame on the
first ballot, in 2005.