The captain of the U.S. men’s soccer team proved why he deserves that title.
At just 23 years old, Tyler Adams was doing a press conference ahead of Tuesday’s World Cup match.
The questions turned from inquiries about his play when an Iranian journalist chose to ask about something more serious.
First, the reporter told Adams that he was pronouncing “Iran” incorrectly and followed it up by asking him how he feels about representing a country that has been so discriminatory against Black people that it’s led to the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Adams may be in his early 20s, but he stayed composed while answering the critical questions and drew upon his experiences of living abroad.
“My apologies on the mispronunciation of your country. That being said, there’s discrimination everywhere you go,” Adams said. “One thing that I’ve learned, especially from living abroad in the past years and having to fit in in different cultures, is that in the U.S., we’re continuing to make progress every single day.”
Adams is a native of upstate New York and first played for the New York Red Bulls, but he currently plays with Leeds United, and his talent is so promising that he debuted for Team USA at just 18.
Coming of age in New York, Adams also touched on how growing up in a mixed-race family helped him relate to several cultures.
“I grew up in a white family with obviously an African American heritage and background as well, so I had a little bit of different cultures, and I was very easily able to assimilate in different cultures,” Adams said. “Not everyone has that ease and the ability to do that. And obviously it takes the longest to understand. And through education, I think it’s super important—like you just educated me now on the pronunciation of your country.”
Watch Tyler Adams and the rest of USMNT take on Iran today as America looks to advance to the last 16.