Considered the best player in Major League Soccer history and the national team's all-time leading scorer, L.A. Galaxy midfielder Landon Donovan is used to being in the spotlight. As the 2014 FIFA World Cup approaches in June—Donovan’s third time at the tournament—as usual, all eyes will be on him. But not only for more record-breaking moments, but also because this year’s Cup is likely to be his last before retirement. We recently caught up with Donovan to learn more about his involvement with the Skin Cancer Foundation, how he’s gearing up for the World Cup, and what he’s looking forward to most after hanging up his cleats.
Shape: Why is sun protection such an important issue for you?
Landon Donovan (LD): Skin cancer became personal to my family when my father was diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma. I’m relieved to share that he is in good health now, but his diagnosis was a real wake-up call and inspired me to partner with the Skin Cancer Foundation for the second year in a row to continue to raise awareness among men about the importance of sun protection.
Shape: What do both men and women need to keep in mind when it comes to protecting their skin from the sun?
LD: Men are sort of doofuses about sunscreen, and for the most part, women are more inclined to take better care of themselves, but a reminder is always good for everyone. Especially if you’re doing something active outdoors—sweating, swimming, wiping your face—reapplying is important. It’s not always easy to do in the midst of whatever you’re doing, but it’s about creating a habit, just like brushing your teeth at night.
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Shape: What matches are you looking forward to most at the World Cup in June?
LD: All of them are exciting. We have our three matches to start the tournament, and then hopefully we’ll get through them to play more. Ghana is our first game, then our second game against Portugal is up near the Amazon. I’ll probably never have a chance to go to the Amazon again, so that’s exciting. And then we play Germany, which in my opinion is one of the best teams in the world.
Shape: How are you approaching the tournament differently this year knowing that it may be your last?
LD: I’m going to try to enjoy it more. It’s likely I won’t have another chance, so I want to make sure I appreciate it for all it is.
Shape: Do you do any unusual workouts to supplement your training?
LD: You got me: I do Pilates. I love Pilates because we do very specific training in soccer for the same six or seven muscles, but we neglect so many other muscles. So when I do Pilates it helps get all the rest of the muscles in shape and gets them working together. I feel better when I do it once a week. I like doing yoga but haven’t done it as much lately. I think when I retire I’ll do more of it.
Shape: What three foods do you always have on hand to fuel your workouts?
LD: Quinoa. I like teff, an Ethiopian grain. It’s not so popular in the states yet but it’s really good, almost like a porridge. And I love sushi, but it’s not always that healthy, so I don’t keep it at home.
Shape: What are you looking forward to most about retirement?
LD: I’m very excited, first, to travel a lot and see parts of the world I didn’t get to see during my soccer career. And to rest, relax, and spend time with my family—I have a nephew who I don’t get to see much and my siblings and my parents. And then at some point, find a new path in life, a new career, something new I want to do and can be passionate about.
Now through July 2014, Energizer Personal Care will make a $5,000 donation for every goal scored by the U.S. soccer team, up to $50,000. Funds will go directly to the Skin Cancer Foundation in support of research and education to help men to be safe in the sun.