Soccer star of the future: “I try to do things the way that I feel God would”

Co-founder Liam Flint spoke with Minnesota United forward Christian Ramirez, about his future aspirations and how his faith changes how he behaves on the pitch.

At what point did you realise that you wanted to be a pro soccer player?

“Basically my dad gave up playing soccer in Colombia to move us to the States, this was to give our family a better life. So for me it was always in a way, inevitable to try and reach this goal. It was always soccer and I never played any other sports, I was interested in Basketball but I never played competitively in a team.”

So as a teenager you were in the Olympic Development Program and earnt the Golden Boot in the national finals, how special was that?

“That was probably the highest moment of my youth soccer career, being able to win a national title and at the same time I was the captain and also won the golden boot.”

How did you come to get picked up by Minnesota United in the NASL?

“Well at the time I was playing for Charlotte Eagles in the USL, the third division and they are a Christian-based soccer team. When I was there they were still professional and we reached the final of the USL championship against Orlando City. I had a buddy on Minnesota’s team who kept tabs on me all year whilst I was there, he actually talked to the coach about me and they brought me in on trial.”

 

You have been prolific for Minnesota, reckon a swoop could come from the MLS?

“Yeah I mean I am just trying to play at the highest level that I can, over the last four years I have taken a very subtle approach by just taking care of what I am able to control, which is my performance on the field and take it one game at a time. Everything else takes care of itself, realistically we are all on one-year deals and trying to prove ourselves worthy of an MLS spot.”

 

Who is the best player that you have played against to date?

“Oh Raul, he played last year for the Cosmos and I actually swapped jerseys with him. Being able to play against one of my childhood idols was pretty surreal.”

 

What striker in world football would you say you are similar to, in style?

“I used to study Falcao a lot when he was at Porto and Atletico. It was his movement, he isn’t the fastest but he has that first step on everyone and is really good with his runs into the box. Also there is Dzeko, he is just so smooth when he runs with the ball and really it is just a mixture of those two.”

 

Tell us your story of how you came to know God?

“I grew up in a Catholic home but wasn’t really into it too much, just went to Church because of my parents and sort of got lost a little but when I went off to college. It wasn’t until my time with the Charlotte Eagles that I found my way because everyone there was no knowledgeable about the bible and believing in God. I had always believed in him but had shown it in a different way so I absorbed a lot during my time there just because of people were so open to speaking about it without forcing it upon me.

I was always the quiet one observing in the back whilst I was taking everything in. To this day I have a little sleeve on my wrist that reads Philippians 4:13 which I wear for every game, so I am not one of those who knows everything about the bible or tell you every story but I listen, I observe and believe. I think everyone has their own way of following God and as long as you are open to it that is the important part.”

 

What is it about that Philippians verse that you love?

“It’s just the statement of being able to do anything through Christ who strengthens me. When you try to do things on your own is when I have failed. I just have to put myself second to God and to be selfless in the way that I live my life, whether that is on the field or off it with people I am dealing with. I try to do things the way that I feel God would.”

Do you think that prayer affects performance?

“Well I pray before every game and just give thanks for this job and pray for health during the game. For me it calms me down and actually the result is already pre-determined in my eyes.”

 

Do you see playing soccer as a form of worship?

“Yes, for me when I am on the field I am always smiling and relaxed, never cursing and never arguing calls. I think I started picking up on that when I read an article about Ricky Kaka that he has never argued a call in his life. So I tried to add that to my own game.”

 

Do you connect with any other Christian soccer players?

“There are my former team mates at Charlotte that I keep in touch with and I know that there are guys here and there. When they see the little band that I play with on my wrist then they mention something to me about it and just say to keep following God.”

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