Andy Najar, trailblazing in Belgium
Andy Najar has added another first to his trailblazing, storybook career.
Less than 18 months after becoming the first Major League Soccer Homegrown player to be sold overseas for a transfer fee, earlier this week Najar signed a contract extension with RSC Anderlecht that will keep him with the heralded Belgian club through 2018.
“This is another fantastic milestone for Andy,” said D.C. United General Manager Dave Kasper. “We couldn’t be more proud of him and the strides he continues to make, building on a wonderful career that started here with D.C. United.”
Since making his First Team debut with Anderlecht in November, Najar has racked up 23 appearances and 2 goals. The 21-year-old’s rapid improvement got the attention of the Juliper League, which named him player of the month in April.
Only four years ago Najar was making the jump from the D.C. United Academy to the professional ranks. At the age of 17, the Honduran youngster exploded onto the scene, scoring a team-high 5 goals en route to becoming the first Homegrown player to earn MLS rookie of the year honors.
Patrolling the right wing as a midfielder and outside back over the course of three seasons with D.C. United, Najar appeared in 82 matches (72 starts), scoring 10 goals and adding 11 assists.
“Watching Andy grow from a promising youth prospect to having success in Europe has been an absolute joy for everyone involved in Andy's development here at D.C. United,” said United head coach Ben Olsen.
The contract extension with Anderlecht is just the latest piece of excitement in what is expected to be a huge year for Najar. Building off his international experience with the Under-23 Honduran national team in the 2012 Olympics, Najar will be a featured part of the upstart full Honduran national side in the World Cup next month in Brazil.
Najar’s preparation for soccer’s biggest stage will bring him back to his old stomping grounds at RFK Stadium, where Honduras will face Turkey in a World Cup warmup as part of the Road to Brazil series on May 29.
“I will always appreciate D.C. United for providing me the opportunity to develop my ability and learn how to become a professional,” Najar said. “Since I was young I always dreamed of playing in Europe, the UEFA Champions League and the World Cup. My time at D.C. United in the Academy and First Team has allowed me to achieve these dreams.”