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w/ U-17 MNT defender Julian Valentin

Off-the-wall Questions and Answers, Queries and Anecdotes from U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team defender Julian Valentin.

The biggest star to come out of the recent FIFA Under-17 World Championship? No, not some 14-year-old American phenom named Freddy Adu. And no, not Brazil’s Leonardo. The one player to splash onto the scene was U.S. defender Julian Valentin, who found his calling in an opportunity to document the team’s trials, tribulations and travels from the tournament in Finland for Now known as simply "Jules" to his devoted online fans, the 16-year-old native and natural-born writer from Lancaster, Pa., now gets the table turned on him in a lively edition of Queries & Anecdotes.

Center Circle: Have you always had a knack for putting thoughts on paper (a.k.a. "writing")?
Julian Valentin: "Yes, I have always written – everything from poems to my thoughts (both profound and satirical)."

CC: Did doing the "Jules’ Journal" reports make you realize how hard the Press Officer’s job is, or was it a breeze?
JV: "Trying not to offend the Press Officer guild, they really don’t have much to do on trips, expect on game days when it gets extremely hectic. But other than that, it’s a nice vacation. Maybe there’s more on the inside that I don’t know about." [Editor’s note: If by vacation, he means trying to teach teenagers how to stop saying "Ummm…" and "…like…" in their interviews, then yes, guilty as charged.]

CC: How long would it take you to write a 10-page paper about your experience living at the IMG academy?
JV: "I don’t know, not too long. Maybe a day or two because that would be easy to write about. If you want me to write that later in the year, I will." [Editor’s Note: Of course, we’ll be taking him up on this at a later date. Sucker…]

CC: We heard through the grapevine that you’re writing a book. Care to provide a teaser about the plot to your growing legion of fans?
JV: "I am writing a book. It’s about a man named Mr. Fitzgerald. He is a grizzly, old man who is misunderstood by society. I flash back to various times in his life to show the reader that he is not the terrible man he appears to be. There are certain points in his past (shown in the flashbacks) that come back to play a huge role later on in his life as an old man. There is also a great adventure, in real time, concerning the paperboy Tyler, who has a good relationship with Mr. Fitzgerald. The plot is complex, deep, well thought out, and funny as well. That’s without giving away too much."

CC: What is there to do growing up in rural Pennsylvana other than play soccer?
JV: "Growing up, and still today, I am a very active person, playing every sport. I was always in organized sports, but in my free time I would play with action figures and build/maintain various clubhouses that my friends and I had."

CC: How about the thriving metropolis of Bradenton, Fla.?
JV: "(Laughs) I spend tons of my free time with my band-mate Marcus Rein, writing and practicing songs. I also like to watch DVDs. But the thing that I spend most of my time doing is running up my cell phone bill by keeping in touch back home."

CC: When you guys had the run of the Manchester United grounds, you bought a toothbrush and toothpaste at the fan store. Have you used either yet or are they still in the packaging?
JV: "I have not and I plan to keep them as a memento, but Corey Ashe and I do use his Man-U shaving cream for shaving his head!"

CC: Have you had the foresight to get Freddy Adu’s autograph before he gets even bigger notoriety?
JV: "Of course I have! As much as Freddy is just my little buddy, I’m not stupid and I make sure that I have plenty of autographs and pictures with him."

CC: Tell us one thing that we probably don’t know about (U-17 MNT head coach) John Ellinger.
JV: "I’ve got to be very careful with this one to ensure my future as a soccer player in this country, but coach Ellinger absolutely loves to watch movies. I would just like to see his DVD collection some time. I bet it’s better than Blockbuster!"

CC: How long do you think it will be before you’re able to grow the Hulk Hogan handlebar mustache that you name-dropped in one of your journal entries? Couple months? Couple years?
JV: "Sadly, I think that it’s going to be a while. The only hair that I ever get is a little dirt here and there – probably a couple of years."

CC: Who’s the biggest celebrity you’ve met at this stage in your young career?
JV: "Michael Johnson. I used to run the 400 meters in track and meeting Mr. Johnson was a great experience."

CC: What’s your favorite line from "Old School?"
JV: "My true favorite line might be a bit inappropriate, but if I really had to choose another one it would be: ‘Guys can’t tell on other guys. That’s something chicks do. Well, good talk – I’ll see you out there.’"

CC: You’re kind of a wiry guy. How much do you bench press?
JV: "Me, wiry? No way. Though I’ve never tried, I could probably max out near 200 pounds, but I do less than that for reps (140-175)."

CC: Have you ever thought about what the first Double Negative album will be called?
JV: "We have not thought about a name yet. I have about 15 original songs written and right now we’re just trying to record them. I’ll make sure to send a copy of the album to U.S. Soccer in Chicago."

CC: And finally, we can’t help but to ask this: Isn’t Jules kind of a girl’s nickname?
JV: "Well, I guess you might say that. As long as the spelling doesn’t change to ‘Jewels’ I think that my manhood will be okay."


Table of Contents
1) Armchair Midfielder (A Look at the U.S. Women’s World Cup Team)
2) In Threes (w/ MNT midfielder Steve Ralston)
3) Whatever Happened to... (former WNT forward Carin Gabarra)
4) Queries & Anecdotes (w/ U-17 MNT defender Julian Valentin)
5) Mark That Calendar (WNT vs. Group D Opponents – Sept. 21, 25, 28)
6) Superstar!!! (w/ WNT midfielder Shannon Boxx)
7) FAN Point/Counterpoint (Who will win the FIFA Women’s World Cup USA 2003?)
8) "You Don’t Know Jack (Marshall)" (Women’s World Cup Trivia)

Download this issue of Center Circle (.pdf).

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