Michael Bradley starts in the World Cup 2014

Michael Bradley, once affectionately nicknamed “The General” for his ability to marshal his team to victory, has been called to “duty” once again. This time starting for the United States in the 2014 World Cup.

In a day where most U.S. players are as renowned for their Twitter activity as for their moves on the field, Michael Bradley’s lack of engagement with social media and the press hides a truly remarkable journey.

Read about the career conquests of the man the U.S. is counting on in the June 16, 2014 issue of Sports Illustrated.

In preparation for the full story, here are the top reasons Michael Bradley is, according to U.S. national team coach Jürgen Klinsmann, “the most unique player” in the world of soccer:

1. He stems from a family of greats. Uncle Scott spent nine seasons as a catcher in the MLB. Mother Lindsay was an All-American lacrosse player. And father Bob has coached teams to three MLS titles, eventually spending a year as the U.S. national team’s interim coach.

2. He’s always been fiercely committed to going pro. He cleaned cleats on the sidelines of the D.C. United training grounds as a kid, convinced the pros to stay late and kick with him, and even committed himself to a professional athlete’s healthy diet starting at age 8.

3. He’s comfortable in any position on the field. Peerless among his fellow Americans, Bradley demonstrates a knack for anticipating play in both defense and possession, allowing him to play wherever his team may need him most.

4. He’s taken his game to teams across the world, proving himself time and again. Bradley went pro at 16 and soon fought his way to prominence in the Netherlands, Germany, and Italy. During the course of his voyage, Bradley embraced every obstacle thrown his way, learning new languages and tailoring his game to fit each coach and each team’s diverse demands.

5. He’s already experienced World Cup glory. Though the U.S. eventually lost out to Ghana in the 2010 World Cup, Bradley’s famous 82nd-minute goal against Slovenia was immortalized forever in the painting American Dream, depicting the whole team amassed in a pile of celebration—and leaving Bradley happily invisible at the bottom of the heap.

6. He follows the ball, not the fame or money. In Bradley’s own words, “The guys who are in it for the money, the fame, in it for the wrong reasons, sooner or later they get found out.”

From kick off to winning goal, don’t miss the FIFA World Cup 2014’s most outstanding stories.

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P.S. Get geared up for the World Cup with a few more of our favorite articles online:

Planet Fútbol’s Prediction Panel from Sports Illustrated: Let’s take it to the roundtable. This panel of pros breaks down their expectations, but only the matches themselves will show which teams end up on top.

A Historical Lookback from Sportsnet: The road to the World Cup we know and love today is paved with countless trials, tribulations, and heartwarming victories. See the full timeline, from 1930 to now.

Key Battles from ESPN: Not a huge fútbol fan? For the more casual spectator, here’s a rundown of the matches you simply shouldn’t miss.