New York Red Bulls’ Aurelien Collin – “God is bigger and better than anything else”

We spoke with now-New York Red Bulls defender, Aurelien Collin for a one-to-one chat with the Frenchman. Collin reveals why he moved to the MLS and opened up about his Christian faith.

You’ve played in France, Spain, England & America. Which is the best league and why?

“I think there is one best league in the world and that is England. Every league has its characteristics and you fit yourself to one of them. I must say that I am really enjoying playing in the United States and it’s a bit like England where anybody can beat anybody. It’s obviously a little lower than the Premier League, but I think in the next few years it will hopefully become one of the best like the EPL.”

How would you describe yourself as a player?

“Well, I am a centre back and I would say that I give everything on the field. I give everything in my own power to make sure that the opposition don’t score.

I absolutely love football, I love defending, I love tackling but I also love to be on the ball. So as much as I love defending with headers and tackles, I enjoy to pass the ball too.”

You had a chance to play in England, tell us about that?

“I was young at my club Gretna, they were out of money so I was looking for a new club. I was looking to play in the Premier League but my attention was brought to Championship teams. I stayed two days at the clubs, but I wasn’t happy, I wanted to play in the Premier League. But you know, I was young, I should have stayed at a Championship side, that was good enough to play in the Premier League. I went to Wolves, Preston & Stoke City, but I wasn’t happy. I then went to Germany and trained with Werder Bremen and Wolfsburg, were they almost finalised a contract but it never happened.”

So, why the move to Orlando City?

“I was coming to the end of my 4-years at Kansas City and it was great. We won the Cup, we won the Championship, I was awarded MVP too. They told me they weren’t going to offer me a new contract, so in my last year I knew I was going to leave. Then I heard about Orlando City, a new exciting project, a big club and so I decided to move.”

What’s it like to play with the likes of Kaka in the MLS?

“It’s amazing. These players have a lot of experience that they bring with them. They teach you a lot, so it’s great for us.”

Best player you’ve ever played with?

“The best player I’ve ever played with, for me, has to be Thierry Henry. I played in the All Star game in front of a huge crowd.

He is a winger, he’s very very good in front of the goal. He wants to win. He will scream at you, he wants to win, he wants to fight and I was so happy to be on his side!”

Moving to a faith side of things, how did you become a Christian?

“I grew up more as a Catholic I would say. I went to Catholic school, but I never really knew who Jesus Christ was. Years later, I came to the United States and I just had a willingness to know who Jesus was inside me. I was going to a Church, wanting to find answers. One day I met with a pastor in Kansas City and I spoke to him and gave my life to Christ. It’s been three and a half years now, and that’s how I became a Christian.”

How would you say your faith impacted your career?

“Great! As a soccer player, it’s all about you. But that all changed when I gave my life to Christ, it was not about me, it was about Him. Even if I don’t play well, or someone else does really well, it does not define my happiness. I wake up happy, every day. It’s changing everything. I’m becoming a better man and a better spouse, marriage has a lot to do with it. The relationships Jesus taught is similar to the way a man should love his wife. I’m growing, every day I learn more about myself.”

Orlando City has it’s very own Chaplain, Andy Searles, how has he helped you with your walk with Jesus?

“At Kansas I had a chaplain and a pastor, so coming here with a chaplain and the coach allowing Andy to speak and pray with us is awesome. We can go to the locker room and pray.

It’s great for the Christians and the non-Christians because they’re probably thinking, “why are they praying?” and they will hopefully come to the group. When Kaka joined the group, he’s obviously a great Christian and I feel that God will do a lot with this group. That’s a huge part. The manager is happy for the chaplain to come into the locker room, we have a Bible study every week, it’s great!”

Do you feel you can be open about your faith in professional football?

“Of course, everybody knows I am a Christian. I am very open about it. Before each game, the whole team comes together and the gaffer choices one player to speak before each game. When he chooses me, I pray. It’s a blessing, my goal is to let people know about Jesus Christ and who he is because when I was back in Europe I knew nothing. I just knew about the Pope and the Catholic church, but I am ready and open to tell people about Jesus and be a light in the team.”

Finally, what would you say has been your career highlight?

“My best career moment was when we won the Championship with Kansas and I was voted the MVP. It was the best day of my soccer career because it was also a day when God really spoke to me. I went into my room alone and I was praying and I was thanking God. It’s not about winning games, getting voted MVP and scoring goals. Life is more than that. That was the day I knew that I couldn’t live without God, because he is bigger and better than anything else. So I have to give 100% to God.”

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