Tampa Bay Mutiny midfielder and 1988 California high school surfing champ Frankie Hejduk had been known until this year for the big wave he failed to catch: Given a shot with the U.S. team in '97, he overslept and missed his flight to a match in China. But in February, Hejduk, 23, played all 90 minutes in the Americans' 1-0 upset of Brazil, and last week he scored his second international goal, in a 3-0 rout of Austria. His prospects of making the World Cup team now? Most excellent.
SI: Are there any similarities between surfing and soccer?
Hejduk: Plenty. In surfing you're constantly paddling, and when you catch a wave, you stand up and use your leg muscles. In soccer you're using your leg muscles when you run and dribble the ball, and you use your upper body to hold people off.
SI: What's your favorite type of Sex Wax?
Hejduk: Probably bubble gum.
SI: Did you really propose to your wife, Kim, while surfing?
Hejduk: It was in my hometown of Cardiff, California. I had her in one hand and my board in the other, and I got down on one knee and popped the question. I was waist deep in the water and waves were crashing down on my head. It was cool.
SI: End the controversy. Which term do you prefer, bro or dude?
Hejduk: Both. I use one as often as the other. It's second nature.