Eight-time NBA All-Star Steve Nash says Christian Pulisic is already the best American soccer player at just 19, and insists the Borussia Dortmund star is central to the growth of the sport in the United States.

Nash knows a thing or two about cracking a “foreign” sport. The former Phoenix Suns point guard was born in South Africa to British parents and played soccer in his youth before switching to basketball as a teenager after the family had moved to Canada.

Speaking to Bundesliga reporter and former BVB right-back Patrick Owomoyela ahead of Die Schwarzgelben’s pre-season friendly against Carlos Vela’s Los Angeles FC, Nash, now 44, was effusive in his praise of Pulisic.

Watch: Nash speaks to Dortmund about Christian Pulisic!

“He’s such a transcendent player,” Nash told Owo on BVB total! “He’s the best American player, in some arguments, already. At 19, as far as his level, he’s playing in the Champions League and I don’t think [that level]’s ever been [achieved] by Americans. He’s phenomenal and I think he’s important for the growth of the game here.”

While Nash once played soccer, it seems Pulisic also has a not-so-secret flair for basketball, with the pair taking the chance to go one-on-one at Dortmund’s training camp.

“He’s pretty good, he scored on me,” smiled Nash. “I gave him a few chances but he did score on me, and he can shoot, and he’s got range. He can shoot from 3 but I know he’s faster than me so he might have been a really good basketball player!”

Fans of Dortmund and the USA can breathe a sigh of relief that Pulisic elected to pursue the beautiful game. The youngster had a direct hand in 11 goals in the USMNT’s ultimately futile qualification campaign for the FIFA 2018 World Cup in Russia this summer, and Nash is confident there is more to come from the attacking midfielder.

Watch: Christian Pulisic: The American Wonderkid!

“Well he’s having a big impact,” he said. “You know it’s tricky because obviously with social media he’s having a heightened impact but at the same time not going to his first World Cup is difficult. Most importantly, I think Christian just has to enjoy his football and keep getting better because that’ll speak for itself.”

Dortmund will return to the US in July to take on Manchester City, Liverpool and Benfica in International Champions Cup, by which time new coach Lucien Favre will have had a month to get to know his squad, and nascent talent Pulisic. If he can fulfil his potential, it would be slam dunk for all involved.

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