Donovan yearns to shine on world stage

By Simon Evans

MIAMI (Reuters) - Landon Donovan is considered the best American soccer player of all time but he still yearns to leave an indelible mark on the world stage.

It has been a hectic year for Donovan who, after a row with his L.A. Galaxy team mate David Beckham, followed the England international's example and opted for a loan spell in Europe.

While Beckham's period with AC Milan ended in an injury which has ruled him out of the World Cup, Donovan enjoyed a successful spell with Everton which further enhanced his reputation.

After failing to make the grade in Germany, where Donovan had two spells with Bayer Leverkusen and a brief loan with Bayern Munich, the Californian's success at Goodison Park showed he definitely had what it took to be a top player outside the United States.

"The experience was a priceless one for me. The games were always fast and ultra-competitive and my time there certainly made me a better player," he said.

"I feel like I had to earn the respect of the fans, and once I did, they were always going to support me."

That respect is a given in North America where Donovan has no match as an attacking midfielder or creative support forward.

The 28-year-old has appeared in two previous World Cup finals and scored 42 goals in 121 international appearances for his country, making him the U.S. side's all-time top scorer,

He made his debut for the United States full national team on October 25, 2000, against Mexico and scored.

He scored twice in the U.S. run to the last eight in the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan where he won the tournament's Best Young Player award.

The 2006 edition in Germany was disappointing for Donovan and the team as a whole, but he was in excellent form when the U.S. reached the final of the Confederations Cup last year and was instrumental in their World Cup qualifying campaign.

Increasingly used by U.S. coach Bob Bradley in a wide midfield role, a position he occupied under David Moyes at Everton, Donovan can also play off a target man striker and he may find himself back in that role at times in South Africa.

(Editing by Robert Woodward)