Carli Lloyd’s journey to soccer celebrity was one of pain and persistence

Carli Lloyd reacts after assisting on Kelley O'Hara's goal in the second half against Germany during a semifinal match of the Women's World Cup on June 30, 2015.
(Minas Panagiotakis / Getty Images)

Carli Lloyd’s long climb to global soccer stardom has been neither quick nor easy. And she’s seemingly had as many people rooting against her as she’s had cheering for her.

But don’t take my word on that. Ask Lloyd.

Or better yet read her book, “When Nobody Was Watching: My Hard-Fought Journey to the Top of the Soccer World,” which goes on sale Monday.

In the book, written with Wayne Coffey, Lloyd goes over lots of familiar turf: her decision to nearly quit soccer after being dropped from an age-group national team; her work with personal coach-cum-guru James Galanis, who remade Lloyd as both a person and a player; her friendship with scandal-plagued teammate Hope Solo; and the naysayers who fueled her along the way.

As the title suggests, most of the book deals with the journey, one of persistence and perseverance in which some of the biggest steps were taken during solitary training sessions at a nondescript community center near her New Jersey home. It ends with Lloyd winning the FIFA World Player of the Year award six months after her hat trick gave the U.S. its first Women’s World Cup title in 16 years.

The cast of characters is long and predictable, consisting almost exclusively of coaches and teammates, both former and present, some recognizable, others anonymous outside their own families. But the journey also takes some surprising and candid detours along the way.

In one, Lloyd said she was approached by Maxim and by “ESPN: The Magazine,” which wanted her to appear in its annual body issue. She turned down both invitations, she said, because “I want to be a role model not a runway model.”

In another, she talks about how newcomers were routinely frozen out by veterans on the national team. And she waits just three pages before delving into an honest, if emotional, confession about her family, from whom she is estranged.

In 2008, in a fit of anger, her father threw her out of the house, Lloyd wrote, and she’s had limited contact -- usually by phone or email -- since. When her father had open-heart surgery, no one told Lloyd until well afterward. When her sister got married, Lloyd wasn’t invited to the ceremony. And 15 months ago, when she turned in arguably the single-greatest performance in a World Cup final, she was unable to share it with her parents. Nor did they congratulate her on her FIFA award.

“I love my family and would like nothing more than to reconcile with them,” Lloyd wrote. “….It’s no exaggeration to say that I never would’ve gotten anywhere near a World Cup, an Olympics, or the U.S. women’s national team without them.”

Three pages later, she introduces Galanis, who enters Lloyd’s inner circle as her trainer but will soon become a confidant, coach and father figure. And with that, the journey is off.

That this recounting ends before last summer’s Rio Olympics, where the team captained by Lloyd was eliminated earlier than any U.S. women’s soccer team in history, leaves the book feeling slightly dated. But it doesn’t detract from the point of the memoir, which is to show how dedication and a relentless work ethic can overcome an endless series of obstacles, both personal and professional.

Twitter: @kbaxter11