Could a French-born defender with a US green card suit up for the Venezuelan national team?
That’s what Aurelien Collin is hoping for, as the newly acquired New York Red Bulls center back is moving towards gaining Venezuelan citizenship with an eye on one day playing for La Vinotinto.
Collin, who was traded from Orlando to New York on April 29, recently told the Seeing Red podcast that he’s been working on getting a Venezuelan passport for “two or three years,” and hopes to secure citizenship within the next few months. He’d qualify for citizenship through his Venezuelan wife, with whom he owns a home in the country.
“I’m in the process of getting the passport and we’re working hard on it,” he told Seeing Red. “It’s been two or three years that we're in the process to getting the passport. So hopefully in a couple of months or some months I will get the passport and afterward it will be the decision of the coach.”
Collin indicated that he wouldn’t receive citizenship in time to be in the mix for the roster for next month’s Copa América Centenario, but that he’d love the opportunity to represent the country, which has faced economic and political turmoil for several years, in the future.
“Venezuela is a country that I really fell in love with. And after the years, step by step, I’m a football player so you know if one day I could be able to represent a country that I really love, it would be a blessing,” he said. “I would be so proud. I would give everything I have as with every club I’ve played with in my career. Especially now with the very difficulty of the government and the country in Venezuela where there’s no food, the petrol is going down, the government is corrupted and not helping the people. And if I can help, even if it’s just through football. If I can help the country, I really hope that one day I will help the country through football and with everything I have.”
An MLS Best XI selection in 2012 and the MLS Cup MVP in 2013, Collin has made 138 career regular season appearances since moving to MLS in 2011. He made his first Red Bulls appearance last week, going the full 90 in New York’s 1-1 draw at his former club Orlando.