Born in the USA, raised in France and with Cameroonian parents, Theoson-Jordan ‘Pefok’ Siebatcheu’s richly layered back story is equally as fascinating as his tireless quest for goals out on the pitch. bundesliga.com has the lowdown on Union Berlin’s new USMNT international striker…
1) Born in the USA
Born in Washington DC on 26 April 1996, ‘Pefok’ (more on that later) moved to Riems in north-eastern France before his first birthday. While he still has relatives in the US, he grew up in France with his mother, sister and two younger brothers, eventually joining the Riems academy when he was just six years old.
2) Early promise, unique goal celebration
Standing at 6’3” and weighing 185 pounds (1.90 metres / 84 kg), Pefok put his immense physical prowess to good use as a youngster. He made his Ligue 1 debut for Riems at the age of 18 against Toulouse in January 2015, and scored three top-flight goals the following season.
It wasn’t until the 2017/18 campaign that he truly announced his arrival on the professional game, however, registering 17 goals and seven assists in the French second division to help his side gain promotion. Not only that, but his form earned him a call-up to the France U21s in 2017, where he made two appearances in a side containing the likes of Benjamin Pavard, Nordi Mukiele and Abdou Diallo.
A high-profile move to Rennes followed in summer 2018, but increased competition for places, a thigh injury and later a coronavirus infection limited his playing time, and he left the club for Young Boys Bern in summer 2020 with just eight goals from 44 competitive outings.
Incidentally, his memorable goal celebration, in which he touches the tips of his index fingers together and raises his thumbs, has a special meaning. “The gesture shows my connection to everyone who supports me,” he said.
3) Call me Pefok
Known simply as “Jordy” to his teammates, Pefok also earned the nickname ‘Air Jordan’ at Young Boys thanks to his impressive aerial ability.
On the back of his shirt, however, he has sported the name ‘Pefok’ – his mother’s first name – throughout his career. He has requested to be called that in the media and his Twitter handle even alludes to that fact, stating: ‘Call me Pefok’.
4) Big-game player
The striker endured a difficult start with Young Boys and failed to find the net at all in his first 10 appearances in the Swiss Super League. He soon proved his worth, however, scoring eight times in his next eight outings and ending his debut campaign with 12 goals and four assists in 32 games. As a result, the club acted swiftly to turn his initial loan from Rennes into a permanent move in May 2021.
Not only that, but Pefok has a knack of hitting the target when it matters most. He scored three goals in a 6-2 aggregate victory over Bayer Leverkusen in the UEFA Europa League round of 32 in 2020/21, and in September 2021 he made headlines the world over with his 95th-minute winner against Manchester United in the Champions League group stage. He was on target again in that competition with a goal in a 3-3 draw with Atalanta.
5) USA international
Pefok’s rise in the game in 2018 led to a first approach from the US national team, which he turned down at the time. “I’d just moved to Rennes and wanted to get integrated into my new team.”
However, under the tutelage of former Schalke head coach David Wagner at Young Boys – Wagner was born in Germany but earned eight caps for the USMNT as a player in the 1990s – he accepted when Gregg Berhalter approached him again.
“Jordan’s history with the USA is special and he speaks much better French than he does English,” said Wagner. “But my own route into the USMNT was via a round-about route, and I played for Germany’s U21.
Pefok’s senior international debut arrived in a friendly against Jamaica in March 2021, and he was part of the team that won the CONCACAF Nations League later that year, even scoring the only goal of the game in the semi-final triumph over Honduras.
“We’ve got a strong team with players like Gio Reyna and Christian Pulisic, who give great support to a centre froward,” he said.
With the 2022 FIFA World Cup on the horizon and Union playing against high-quality opposition in the Europa League this season, Pefok will be hoping to hit the ground running as he vies for a place in the squad with the likes of Ricardo Pepi, Josh Sargent and Haji Wright.
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