In the latest update in our ongoing series, we corner New York Red Bulls defender Stephen Keel and shoot him a few questions about life in the MLS and the Big Apple...
Name: Stephen Keel
Birthplace: Littleton, CO, April 11, 1983
When did your passion for soccer begin?
I started playing soccer when I was about four-years-old – just at home. I have a brother who is three years older than me and he and his friends always played together, so I wanted to join them. I think when I look back this was definitely when my passion for the game began.
Was soccer always your first choice? No temptation to choose another sport which might be more popular in the US?
Soccer was always my first choice. Absolutely. I mean I played basketball a little bit when I was younger, but I switched permanently to soccer when I was around nine-years-old and I haven't stopped since.
Which players did you most admire when you where younger?
Growing up I was kind of a central midfielder. That’s how I saw myself and so I admired Dunga from Brazil, just because of his style of play, and also Carlos Valderrama was one of my heroes. And not just because of his hair! I really liked the way he played and his vision was just amazing.
Of course the New York Red Bulls are now your favourite team, but which clubs were your favourites when you where younger?
Well, growing up I was a pretty big Arsenal fan and then the Colorado Rapids. I mean, I am from Colorado, so that’s why, but now of course the New York Red Bulls are my favourite team. But when we are talking about overseas I watch the English Premier League the most and I definitely support Arsenal.
In your point of view, what is so special about the area of New York and New Jersey?
I mean this area has everything you can imagine. There is nothing you can’t find either in New York or in the New Jersey area. If you are looking for something particular there is for sure a place where you can get it. You can find all sorts of food, all sorts of different people. I mean sometimes I just go out to watch people – I am so fascinated by interactions and so on. I can spend hours in this unique atmosphere, just doing nothing else but watching people. New York is just great…something special. It’s like no other place in the world.
And do you have some favourite hotspots in the city?
Well, I go into the city sometimes and just kind of wander around and see some of the sights. I mean this is my first time on the East Coast, so I am still kind of a tourist! I like to go to Times Square or the Empire State Building or also for example I just love to explore Central Park. Hopefully I'll become more acclimatised soon and then I find some true New York hotspots.
But do you have at least already a favourite restaurant here?
Yes, there is a great little Italian restaurant in Clifton, NJ, where I live. They have fantastic Chicken Parmesan…that’s a real treat every now and then. Unfortunately I can't remember the name of this place right now.
What does it mean for you to play for the New York Red Bulls?
Oh, it is just awesome. I mean the opportunity to be part of this club, the opportunity to play in this wonderful stadium, with these great fan. I mean that's awesome – the team we have, the staff we have. I just can say it's a dream come true that I have the chance to walk every day to practice and to play games here. It's just unbelievable, so I feel so blessed and thankful for the opportunity I have and hopefully I can take full advantage of it.
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