KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Fashion icon. Tongue-in-cheek relationship guru with a deep respect for cats. Hard-nosed defender with the soul of a bicycle-kicking striker.
To crib a phrase from the Byrds by way of Pete Seeger, Aurelien Collin is ready for his star turn, turn, turn. And after showing his tough side in his first season with Sporting Kansas City, the French center back is putting the other facets of his personality on display in 2012.
“As my mother said, there is a time for everything in life,” Collin said last week. “When you’re out on the field, you have to be rough in life. To be like that is part of my game. It’s being hard and focused and scaring the striker, of course. But that doesn’t mean I’m like that in real life.
“My game is like that, but my personality is not like that.”
Plenty of other words fit Collin’s personality, though. The one that really suits – on and off the pitch – is “outsized.”
“He’s crazy,” goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen said. “He’s crazy in a good way.”
Collin, who bounced around Europe before coming to Kansas City, struggled with a yellow-card problem early in the 2011 season, but eventually won fans over with his gritty play and rapid return from a back injury to help Sporting reach the Eastern Conference title game.
“He’s a real warrior, once he’s inside the white lines,” said Matt Besler, Collin’s partner in Kansas City's central defense. “When he steps on the field, it’s all business.”
WATCH: Collin's Corner - Episode 2
If we’re playing “Name that French Stereotype,” then, the onfield Collin is the guy dangling a Gauloises cigarette from the corner of his mouth while he blows up something for the Resistance.
Off the field? That’s where you’ll find “Collin’s Corner,” a new series of short videos in which Collin, proclaiming himself “Sporting Kansas City’s most fashionable and most desirable player,” offers teammates advice on everything from posing for pictures to eating seductively.
“In a sense, I’m making fun of me, the way I like fashion and I’m into it,” Collin said. “It’s fun, and I’m okay with it.”
So is manager Peter Vermes, who sees a link between Collin’s charisma off the pitch and his play on it.
“I think I’ve said this a million times,” Vermes said. “I love guys not only with personality but with strong personalities. Weak personalities, they break. Strong personalities bend and they come back.”
That said, Collin still needs to be reined in sometimes. He’s not shy about going forward and taking on shots, and he gave Sporting fans a scare in Saturday’s 1-0 First Kick victory over D.C. United when he landed awkwardly on his neck and upper back after an attempted bicycle kick.
“He’s full of energy, and that’s good, but sometimes you have to pull him back a little bit because he’s so excited,” Nielsen said. “He wants to be everywhere where the ball is. But he’s a guy who, as a goalkeeper, you like to have in front of you. He takes every battle, he goes 100 percent into every tackle.”
With style, of course. Always with style.