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World Cup: U.S. vs. Algeria: Pain leads to gain for Landon Donovan

June 23, 2010 |  3:02 pm

In the emotional aftermath of his game-winning World Cup goal Wednesday, the usually composed Landon Donovan broke down during a news conference, saying that the last four years have seen the most painful moments of his professional and personal life.

“Soccer related was immediately after the 2006 World Cup," he said, referring to a disappointing performance in which the U.S. was bounced in three games. "Personally, it was in July of last year."

That was when he and his wife, actress Bianca Kajlich, separated, something Donovan said he still regrets. During a TV interview immediately after the match with Algeria, Donovan blew a kiss to his ex-wife, something he explained later -- to a degree.

"I've carried her with me through this tournament. And she’s been a part of this with me. I'm lucky to have her," he said.

Asked by a European reporter whether that suggested a reconciliation was in the works, Donovan thought for a moment then smiled. "What is this, "Access Hollywood"?" he said.

In a more serious moment, however, Donovan said the pain from those painful experiences helped make Wednesday's special moment possible.

"Those experiences can harden you and can help you grow if you learn from them and if you look at it the right way," he said. "I've spent a lot of time and done a lot of work to get something out of those experiences, and I think it all came together tonight."

-- Kevin Baxter in Pretoria, South Africa