LeBron James of Soccer (Christian Pulisic)
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The LeBron James Of Soccer is a nickname given to U.S. soccer player and captain of the U.S.A. soccer team Christian Pulisic, who also plays for Chelsea F.C. The nickname was coined in late 2021 after an episode of Pawn Stars aired that featured a signed Pulisic jersey. The meme then took off en masse when the American team made it out of the first round of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar by defeating Iran. Inherently, the satirical nickname relates Pulisic to NBA player LeBron James, who is regarded by some as the best basketball player in history.
On December 11th, 2021, season 19, episode 14 of the reality TV show Pawn Stars, titled "Declaration of Indepawndence," aired on American television. One of the pawned items featured in the episode was a signed Christian Pulisic jersey from Chelsea F.C. When the jersey was presented to the pawn shop employee Corey in the episode, he called Pulisic, "like the 'LeBron James of soccer'" (YouTube upload shown below).
A few days later, on December 18th, 2021, Twitter user clinicalkai tweeted the video, captioning it, "What is this bro I’m dying 😭😭." Over the course of 11 months, the tweet received roughly 3.4 million views and 62,900 likes (shown below). Thereafter, calling Pulisic the "LeBron James of Soccer" became a notable reference, mostly making fun of, but at the same time praising, Pawn Stars' Corey.
What is this bro I’m dying 😭😭 pic.twitter.com/j30LwFvrqk
— ⚡️ (@clinicalkai) December 18, 2021
On December 19th, 2021, the Instagram account ftbl posted a four-panel image of the Pawn Stars scene with quotes, gaining roughly 65,500 likes in 11 months (shown below, left). Also on December 19th, 2021, the Instagram account oddsbible posted a meme with James Corden, gaining roughly 45,300 likes in 11 months (shown below, right).
Going into early 2022, multiple Twitter users and British fans of Pulisic on Chelsea referred to him as the "LeBron James of Soccer" in various viral tweets. For instance, on January 2nd, 2022, Twitter user CFCMod_ tweeted, "We have the Lebron James of soccer, I don’t think you understand!" after Chelsea F.C. won a game with Pulisic's help, gaining roughly 14,800 likes in 10 months (shown below, left). Later on January 2nd, 2022, the official Twitter account of Chelsea FC USA tweeted, "THE LEBRON JAMES OF SOCCER 🇺🇸" with two images of Pulisic playing for Chelsea. The tweet received roughly 18,300 likes in 10 months (shown below, right).
2022 World Cup in Qatar
As the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar approached, Pulisic as the "LeBron James of Soccer" shifted from British Chelsea fans to American fans of the U.S. men's national soccer team (USMNT) in online discourse. For instance, on October 8th, 2022, the Twitter account of Barstool Sports tweeted a clip of Pulisic scoring for Chelsea, stating, "LeBron James of Soccer getting hot before the World Cup." The tweet received roughly 1,000 likes in one month (shown below).
LeBron James of Soccer getting hot before the World Cup. @StoolFootball pic.twitter.com/ijUWFRADbx
— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) October 8, 2022
On November 21st, 2022, the Instagram account oldrowsports posted a Yes Chad meme that referenced the British People 'Well At Least Our Schools Are Not A Shooting Range' trend on TikTok, gaining roughly 9,000 likes in nine days (shown below).
Pulisic as the "LeBron James of Soccer" also trended on TikTok during the 2022 World Cup, especially after the USMNT's victory in the U.S.A. vs. Iran match. For instance, when the U.S. played Wales, TikToker jonathanmiddletonn posted a video on November 22nd, 2022, with text overlay referencing Pulisic's nickname, gaining roughly 833,300 plays and 155,800 likes in eight days (shown below).
@jonathanmiddletonn abysmal referring #HuluChippendalesDance #footballtiktok #footballvideo #football #usmnt #usa #worldcup #worldcup2022 #qatar2022 ♬ original sound – Cohen Langley
Christian Pulisic's 'It's Called Soccer' Shirt
Christian Pulisic's It's Called Soccer' Shirt refers to a photoshopped image of Christian Pulisic's undershirt made to read, "It's called soccer," in reference to the debate between calling the sport soccer or football between Americans and British people. Pulisic's original shirt read, "Man in the Mirror." The "It's called soccer" version of the image trended amid the USA vs. England game in the first round of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar as a way to make fun of Britsh and European fans, humorously portraying the U.S.A. team and their word choice as superior. American fans also chanted "It's called soccer" in the stadium to support their team.
 Metacritic – 'Declaration of Indepawndence'
 YouTube – Pawn Stars: SUPERSTAR Signed Soccer Jersey Worth THOUSANDS?
 Twitter – @clinicalkai
 Twitter – @ChelseaFCinUSA
 Instagram – @oddsbible
 Twitter – @barstoolsports
 Instagram – @oldrowsports
 TikTok – @jonathanmiddletonn
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