During my spring break, I had the opportunity to interview Dairon Asprilla, a star of the Portland Timbers. Dairon Asprilla came to the Portland Timbers on December 8, 2014. He was born in Istmina, Colombia, where he played in his native Colombia League First Division with Atletico Nacional and then with Alianza Petrolera, where he made 71 appearances for the first team and helped them to be promoted to the First Division of Colombia in 2012.
When I had the opportunity to interview Dairon Asprilla, he surprised me by how humble he is and how good he is as a player and a person. Most of us see professional soccer players as people who have everything and live that luxury life, but I was wrong. I learned that the Timbers are very humble people who have sacrificed many things (like missing family reunions, missing birthday parties with their loved ones and hanging out with friends) to become a professional such as Asprilla, who had to leave his family and go to a new country to start a new chapter in his career.
Before the interview was conducted Asprilla and I were sitting down on the bleachers and as the camera man was getting ready to film us, Asprilla asked me if I was nervous and I said “yes, are you?” He then responded, “No, don’t be nervous. Just be calm and do what you have to do. Be confident in yourself.” After the interview, as he was leaving he looked back at me and said, “remember, always be confident in yourself and don’t be afraid to go after anything that you want to achieve.” What he said has really motivated me to step out of my comfort zone, try new things and follow my dreams. While doing this, I always remember him saying to stay calm and confident in myself. I am really grateful that I have had this opportunity to interview Dairon Asprilla and to see the hard work the club puts into every practice and how dedicated the players and staff are to the club.
How did you become a professional soccer player? And how old were you?
"At eighteen I was already starting to become a professional. A lot of ups and downs but I thank God I am where I am and doing what I love."
Do you have any pregame rituals?
"Yes - I am very devoted to a saint in my holy land that we call holy Ecce Homo. It is something like the image of Christ but over there we have a different name for it. I always say a prayer to that saint and say the Our Father prayer as well.”
Always before the game?
"Yes - that makes me feel better and gives me more confidence"
If you were not a professional soccer player, what would you be?
"At the moment I started playing, I thought of nothing else. I would just play like every child would do and this opportunity was given to me so I am making the most of it. So I wouldn’t be able to tell you what else I would have done."
What do you do in your spare time when you are not playing soccer?
"Right now that I live alone, I spend it mostly at home, I'm new [to Portland] so I do not know that much about the city, but I’m usually at home playing Playstation, listening to music and doing normal things.
What kind of games do you play on the Playstation?
Do you find the style different in MLS than in the First Division in Colombia?
"Yes, it is very different. In Colombia, unfortunately there is not much order. In that sense I feel very comfortable here. There is much more order here and it makes things easier.”
What kind of advice would you give to younger players who want to become a professional player someday?
"Dedication, a lot of sacrifice, and being humble will take you far. Never give up. Always give your best effort to achieve the goals you set for yourself."
When you play against a team that has noisy fans, how do you handle that situation?
"That motivates me. When people are screaming at you and saying so many things, in my case as a striker, I make a goal and see how they become silent. Their reaction is something that I can enjoy."
When you were younger, what soccer player was or is still your idol?
"Like I said, since I was very young I didn’t think of playing soccer professionally but I thank God I had the chance. But now that I pay more attention, I like watching Jackson Martínez, who is the same nationality as me. And right now I really like Juan Guillermo Cuadrado’s style of play as well. So it's something very important to me because they share the same nationality as me and that motivates me to continue to give my best."
Was it difficult to become a professional soccer player?
"Yes. At first you go through many things, many sacrifices, but if you never give up and you keep fighting, you get opportunities like these. I thank God for where I am today and I enjoy everything that I do."
Have you played any other sport besides soccer?
"I really like microfutbol. It looks like soccer but is much more fast paced.”
What is the most important thing you've learned in your career so far?
"I've grown as a person and as a player. Everywhere I go I try to learn new things every day and that helps me."
What is your goal for this season with the Portland Timbers?
"For being a young player, as they say here, I want to get things like titles. The team has treated me very well. They are a big club, so I hope to give my best and to have a lot of success with them."