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Eddie Hawkins: First African American to Play for American Men’s Soccer Team


Over the years, soccer in the United States has gained much traction. Although the men’s national team is less successful than the women’s, it has become more diverse. Currently, there are 12 black players on the team. In 1984, Eddie Hawkins was the first-ever player of color to wear a US soccer jersey. He broke the color barrier at a time when only white players received call-ups. Learn more about him below.

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Eddie Hawkins’s Journey in Football

Eddie grew up in New York. During his high school days, he played soccer, track & field, and basketball. Although he did all well, he settled on soccer and performed well. He caught the attention of various teams, including the Washington Diplomats

Despite the interest, Eddie went to college first and pursued a degree in Economics and Management and a master’s in Information Technology. He represented Hartwick College and scored 30 goals and 10 assists. This was his opportunity to get into college.

“Soccer opened a path for me to join college. The school coach, Martelli, sparked my interest. He was the one who made my hometown go crazy with soccer. Plus, most students who played for him joined college or went professional.” Hawkins reflected.

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Professional Career

Eddie Hawkins’ career was short-lived, but it tells the story of a man who follows his desires. He chose not to join the North American Soccer League (NASL)and by the time he was done with school, the league was non-existent. 

However, his dreams weren’t dashed. He joined the Pittsburgh Spirit in the Major Indoor Soccer League but was traded to the Minnesota Strikers. The team loaned him to the Dallas Sidekicks, but he turned down the move. 

Eddie earned a place in the Mt. Vernon Corsairs team and played for them until he landed a job at the International Business Machines Corporation (IBM).

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National Team Cap

Eddie Hawkins: First African American to Play for American Men’s Soccer Team
First African-American soccer player in the American team. Source: Twitter

Eddie Hawkins might not have had a lot of club experience, but he was good enough to be capped by his country. In December 1984, he played against Ecuador and became the first African-American to do so. Reflecting on it, Eddie Hawkins said:

“When you listen to the national anthem, you feel like you want to thank everyone who’s helped you to get there. It instils a sense of gratefulness,” Hawkins said.

This was the only time he represented the national team

“When you get that chance, on that day, you’re the best player in that position and it’s something that can never be taken away from you. The feeling of representing your country is greater than anything else in the world,” the player continued.

After Retirement

After his playing career, Eddie Hawkins founded Zen Soccer School to develop young players. Eddie Hawkins is proud to get players of different ethnicities to training programs. Some have competed in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). 

Eddie Hawkins’ has a special place in history. His contribution to American soccer will always be remembered. He might not have been the best American soccer player, but breaking the color barrier was a historic milestone.  

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