As a junior in high school, Christian Dean felt burnt out by soccer, but fortunately for Chicago Fire fans, his coach talked him into playing again.
Dean, who was a junior when he left the sport, returned for his senior season, and he ultimately was picked with the third overall selection in the MLS Draft.
Since then, injuries have kept him limited to just 15 professional matches, but he’s looking to start a new chapter of his career with the Fire.
“It’s frustrating. It’s part of the game, something that you have to live with,” he said. “You have to take the risk going into the tackles, and if something happens, you recover and keep playing.”
The Fire are hoping that Dean’s positive attitude helps him reach his potential, as they traded for the 24-year-old last August.
“Getting traded for is huge,” he said. “It means somebody cares about what you can do on and off the field.”
At 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, Dean is hard to miss on the field, but his tattoos, 25 in all, ensure that all eyes are on him.
Most of his tattoos are dedicated to his family, but he also has a soft spot for movies.
“I have a large piece on my shoulder – the Stars Wars one,” he said. “Star Wars is a huge factor in my life. I grew up watching it, and I’ve probably seen every movie 50 times.”
Even with his penchant for ink, Dean is hoping that his play on the field does most of the talking, and gets Fire fans excited about seeing him on the pitch.
"Coming to a new team, it's always a fresh start,” he said. “You kind of get to remake yourself as a player and person."
The Fire will open the 2018 season on Saturday afternoon at Toyota Park when they welcome Sporting KC to the Windy City.