Retired LA Galaxy defender Tony Sanneh has settled back in his native state, where he's focused on his foundation and looking for a wife. The goal of the Sanneh Foundation -- which is having its gala March 24 at the Depot -- is to use the appeal of soccer to bring children of all cultures together to help them "find success on the field and in the game of life," said Sanneh.
His interest in people of other cultures was cultivated at home: His father is a native of Gambia and his mother a Wisconsin farm girl. Although Sanneh has a reputation as a terrible dancer, he's putting his left foot forward Feb. 25 at the Minneapolis Hilton for "2012 Dancing With the Twin Cities Celebrities" to raise money for ALS, because his friend John Sylvester (team4sly.org) has the disease.
Despite Sanneh's studious demeanor, he's a prankster. He had me going good with facetious information about former teammate David Beckham. Sanneh is also a doting uncle to a 1-year-old named Silas -- and not just because his nephew is buying Tony time to find a good wife and make his mom, Delores Houle of Eden Prairie, happy by giving her more grandkids.
Q I hear it's obvious that a lot of moms enjoy taking their kids to your soccer camps. Have you noticed that?
A Personally, I hadn't noticed. I'm too busy worrying about the ball and the kids.
Q Can you still bend it like Beckham?
A I hold my own. My co-ed (Sanneh Foundation team for employees and volunteers) bowed out last week, so obviously I wasn't good enough.
Q Who's better looking, you or David Beckham?
A David Beckham. No brainer. About 5 billion other people would agree with me.
Q Do you think that Beckham engaged in sock-stuffing for the print ads of his new line of H&M underwear?
A I haven't seen him naturally, so I wouldn't know. He had his own shower, you know.... Just kidding, he doesn't.
Q Do you remember all your injuries?
A No, I've had too many. (Then he listed them, as you can see at startribune.com/video.)
Q What's one thing that fans say to you that you wish you never had to hear again?
A The World Cup is in front of 2 billion people. The farthest the U.S. has gone is the quarterfinals, and we lost to Germany. With about 15 seconds to go, the ball came across and I headed it and it hit the side of the net. I missed by about that much. Every time I see a fan they say, You were incredible. I loved watching you. If you [had] made that header, we would have... And I'm like, "Yes. I know. I've got it. You don't have to remind me." Woulda, coulda, shoulda.
Q I'm told your friends take you to nightclubs to dance, even though you can't.
A Even if we are around the house and I start to dance, my friends will tell me to stop. So I'm really not allowed to dance. That's why it's interesting that I'm [learning to dance] with Arthur Murray here. My friends are very excited to see me make a fool of myself.
Q How would your friends at St. Paul Academy complete this sentence: Tony Sanneh is...?
A A pretty nice guy when he had that Will Smith haircut. The high-top fade. Maybe I'll send you a picture.
Q Is it difficult to find women to date when you're an international soccer star?
A It's difficult to find a wife.
Q You're looking for a wife?
A I think all 40-year-old single men are.
Q What qualities are you looking for in a girlfriend who might become a wife?
A Honesty. Somebody positive. Not a Debbie Downer.
Q What qualities do you find sexy?
A A smile.
Q How many kids would you like?
A Three. If I can still run.
Q Would Kim Kardashian turn your head?
A It would turn. Might turn right back. Would I date her? What's your definition of "date"?
Q Lady Gaga and Madonna both call to ask you on a date. Whose call do you return?
A Madonna. (He also would return Charlize Theron's and Rosario Dawson's calls ahead of Madonna's.)
Q What's the most shocking gesture a woman has made to get your attention?
A That would be a stewardess [on a flight to Costa Rica], and that would be "Coffee, tea or me." (Happy Mother's Day early, Delores. Your son cleaned up this answer for you.)
Q What's the most successful line you've used on a woman? Excuse me, women? ("You'd better make that plural," interjected Marshall Morehead, owner of Twin Cities Futsal and Sanneh's friend.)
A You're killing me. I try to introduce myself. I get set up more than I meet women.
Q How do you know they are interested in you and not your money?
A You just try to get to know people.
Interviews are edited for space and clarity. C.J. is at 612.332.TIPS or firstname.lastname@example.org.