(CBS News) For the past six years, soccer star Clint Dempsey has carved an unlikely role for an American playing at the sport's highest levels.
Playing in the English Premier League, Dempsey didn't just survive -- he thrived.
But earlier this month, the Texas native decided to return home. On Sunday night, he made his debut for his brand new club: the Seattle Sounders.
The announcement on August 2nd stunned the soccer world, and the reaction surprised Dempsey himself.
With a four-year deal worth more than $30 million, Clint Dempsey -- the most successful American in European club history -- suddenly became Major League Soccer's biggest acquisition since David Beckham went to Los Angeles in 2007.
"For me, to be honest with you, I thought I was gonna be over there two more years," Dempsey said. "But the opportunity came where, you know, the MLS and Seattle Sounders really moved mountains to get me back to the States."
Dempsey, already captain of the U.S. national soccer team, told CBS News he wanted his three kids to grow up stateside, where he believes the game has taken a huge leap forward, especially in the Pacific Northwest -- where Sounders soccer is arguably as big as the other kind of football.
"I wasn't" aware of how big soccer had become in the northwest, Dempsey said. "You hear about it, but you don't know until actually you go there. We had a World Cup qualifying game there and it was crazy, and that's great for us because finally, you're playing at home and you have a home field advantage where, before, it seemed like you never had home field advantage. It was just always -- you were playing against another team. And, you know, it's-- it's almost like you're in a different country it seemed."
Few played soccer where Dempsey grew up.
"I would say people, they look at you funny when you'd tell them what you did," Dempsey said.
With no local soccer role models in Nagodoches, Texas, as a kid, Dempsey watched the greats from South America -- a free-wheeling style he believes he can now return to.
"I felt when I was in Europe, I was a little bit limited in that regard," Dempsey said. "So lookin' forward to getting back to doing a little bit more of, you know, the reason why I fell in love with the game."
The move, though, hasn't come without questions, as some wonder why a player at the pinnacle of his profession would re-enter a league with significantly less talent.
Dempsey doesn't take the questions badly though.
"It's a compliment that people think that I'm a good player," Dempsey said. "I remember when people didn't think I was good. And I remember being a rookie coming into the league with a big chip on my shoulder trying to prove myself. And it just seems like you gotta prove yourself every year."
In Seattle, Dempsey will try to prove himself once again. The man nicknamed "Captain America" is going to be seen a lot more here.