KANSAS CITY, Mo. – At the absolute minimum, Aurelien Collin will bring an injection of personality to Sporting Kansas City.
After weeks of waiting on Collin to be released from his contract with Portuguese club Vitoria Setubal, Kansas City acquired the 25-year-old central defender with just minutes to spare before the close of the transfer window last Friday.
Needless to say, the gregarious Frenchman hasn’t taken long to fit in. Collin trained with the first-team defense this week, spending his down time joking with his teammates and practicing his basketball moves against phantom defenders and unsuspecting passersby.
Captain Davy Arnaud even referred to Collin as the squad’s “Ali G” in a conversation with reporters because of his fashion sense, although Collin downplayed those comparisons. MLSsoccer.com sat down with Kansas City’s newest addition after practice on Wednesday to get his thoughts on coming to the United States and what he expects in the coming season.
MLSsoccer.com: How does it feel to have everything completed and be officially signed by the club?
Collin: I feel relieved because it’s been a long time since I’ve played a real game. The last one was at the end of January. I have very happy to finally have my papers and international clearance. In my head, I feel free. I can go to work with my head clear.
MLSsoccer.com: What was it about your situation with Vitoria Setubal that made this move something that you pursued?
Collin: I had some issues back in Portugal. I wanted to settle and handle everything. Now everything is good. [Vermes] helped me, the lawyers in Portugal helped me and now I am good.
MLSsoccer.com: Why did you choose to come here? What about MLS and the United States was attractive for a player like yourself?
Collin: In the United States, everything is more professional. They want you to be the best, they work hard and the facilities are amazing. The coaches are always behind you, making you work harder. I wanted to come here to finally have a real structure and the facilities to become the best I can be.
MLSsoccer.com: What kind of player are you? What are your strengths and what do you hope to bring to this team?
Collin: I am hard worker. I try to play good football as much as I can, but I am a central defender, so defending is first for me. I love to play football. We’ll see what I can bring to the team. The one thing that is for sure is that I will give 100 percent for the team.
MLSsoccer.com: MLS is generally accepted to be a physical league compared to some of the stops you’ve made in your career. How do you think your style of play fits into that?
Collin: I’ve been in Scotland. In Scotland, it is very similar. It is very physical, people like to draw contact and go hard at all times. I think I’ll be OK in this league. Even though the last couple of years I’ve been in Portugal, Greece or Spain where it was more technical, I will adapt. I will work hard, and I will adapt.
MLSsoccer.com: How do you think all the different experiences you have had in your career will help you adapt to both playing and living here?
Collin: I’ve been to a lot of leagues, that is true. But I have never had as good of facilities as we have here. I think it will be easier than the other clubs where I have been. I won’t have money problems here. It is very different about the money. Salary comes one day for sure. I think I am in the best place to show the world what I can do and who I am.
MLSsoccer.com: What kind of impressions have your teammates made on you so far?
Collin: There are players that have played in good teams [in Europe] like Julio Cesar and Jimmy Nielsen. I am kind of a younger player, so I learn everyday. I look at them, learn something new every day, work hard and we will see.
MLSsoccer.com: Your International Transfer Certificate (ITC) came in this week, meaning you will be available for this weekend’s game against New England. Are you excited to get started right away?
Collin: I’ll be very happy. I hope I have a good game, but, more importantly, I hope we win. The team is the most important thing.