The man who will be the first soccer player in the USF Athletics Hall of Fame didn't come to USF for soccer.
"Fergus knew what he wanted to do," says former teammate Con Foley. "Teams we know... Arsenal... Manchester United... they all wanted Fergus when he was 17 or 18 years old."
Instead, Ireland's Fergus Hopper came to America to join USF.
"Fergus came to USF because it gave him what he wanted to do. As much as he loved soccer, he realized long term he had to have a career," says Foley.
Hopper, in fact, was already working at the time for Allied Irish Banks in Dublin. He took a four-year hiatus to come to USF, play a little soccer, and go back to banking, USF degree in hand.
Turned out, though, he did more than play a little soccer. He was USF's first soccer All-American, getting the honor three times, in 1974-76. He was on the All-Sun Belt Conference team in 1976, and in 1977 he was nominated for the Herman Award, the college soccer equivalent of the Heisman. He led the Bulls to two NCAA Tournament appearances in his USF career and won four meritorious service awards from the department.
Even tempered and personable off the field, Hopper was a tough defender on the pitch.
"He had a great ability to read and understand the game. He would be there before the ball. He could understand what his own defense would do and he would fill in when we made errors," says Foley.
As the program grew under USF Hall of Fame coach Dan Holcomb, Hopper was a stabilizing force on defense.
"Fergus was in the center of our defense," says Holcomb. "As a result, we were really solid there all four years he played."
"He set the standard," says Foley, "for people who would come to USF and play defender in the future."
"Just an all-around athlete," recalls former USF trainer Tony Jonaitis. "A great athlete and a great person. He always appreciated whatever you did for him."
Away from the game, the native of Ireland adapted to a new country easily, and quickly won the respect of teammates, coaches, and USF staff members.
"Once he became your friend he was always going to be your friend. He was there to help in the tough times and there to enjoy the successes of the team," says Foley.
"He was definitely the leader of his team and definitely the hardest worker," says Jonaitis.
His honor is an important moment to both Foley and Holcomb.
"He was probably the best player we ever had," says Holcomb. "He was a wonderful student. Fergus Hopper is a prime example of an excellent student-athlete."
"It means a lot for the soccer program," says Foley, speaking of Hopper's induction. "He was a great leader. Fergus is what soccer is about."
Fergus Hopper, three-time All-American, joins the USF Hall of Fame on Friday night as part of the class of 2011.