Player Profile: Jose Barril Talks American Soccer, His “Dream Team” and Tennis…

Jose Barril is a Spanish football player from Madrid, Spain who began his soccer career with Real Madrid at 7 years old and continued with the organization until 2013.  In 2014, Barril signed with the City Islanders, where he’s made over 30 appearances, has scored numerous goals, and set up countless assists. Now, Barril reveals more about his personal life, football in Europe, and his time with the City Islanders…

Q: You spent 14 years with Real Madrid’s academy. Describe your time there.

I was a kid and I spent 14 years there.  It is like your dream.  Every day, every training, every game, you get to do what you want [play soccer].  It is amazing.  So it was the best time of my life.

Q: With this being your third season, do you believe you helped some of the newer players, such as Wilson, Dabo, and other rookies? In what ways?

Yes, especially players like Dabo, who is coming from Europe…and maybe Youssef, because we have a different style in Europe.  The mentality, the way that we train and play games is different.  And so for players that have played in Europe, I think they look at us with more experience to see what we do and what we don’t do here.

Q: What are some of the major differences between football in Europe and football in the United States?

It sounds bad but it is super competitive, with your teammates and your coaches.  Every day is like a test, so every day you have to be better than your teammates, better than the guy close to you.  So, I think it is hard because you have very good friends and fighting for the position or the spot is hard.  I think here [in the U.S.] people play soccer more as a hobby and so there’s a better feeling in the locker room with your teammates and better relationships. So, it’s different.

For example, if you can’t play one game because you are injured, and your team wins, you have to train really hard, because the coach is thinking, “if I can win with this team, I don’t have to put this guy in again”.  So it’s super competitive and super intense.

Q: In your three years with the City Islanders, in what ways have you seen the team change?

I think that we’ve changed a lot.  Specifically, with moving to different stadiums.  I think the mentality changed, too, in the staff, the coach, and the players.  I think Bill and the staff tried to make it more European especially with the way we play, the stadiums, everything…and I love it. I feel so comfortable here.  So, it’s so much different than when I first got here.

Q: What did you want to accomplish personally this season?

I think the only goal I have right now is just enjoying the game.  Of course, I have goals like scoring more and having more assists but I think my only goal for right now in my job is to enjoy. Enjoy everything that I do, every day.  So, going to training happy, going to the games happy, and just enjoy. I am far away from my house, from my parents…I mean my girlfriend is here right now but she’s living there, so it’s hard to be happy sometimes. So I try to be happy every day and just enjoy.

Q: With being so far away from home, do you keep in contact with your family regularly?

Oh yeah, I try to everyday, but it’s not the same thing.  Talking on the phone to your parents is not the same.

Q: What is your favorite moment from this season?

Mmmm…it’s hard to say already because we’re only in the middle but I think we had pretty good moments.  Especially when you come back in the games that you’re losing 2-0 and come back like 2-2 or 3-2 or something like that, it’s pretty exciting.

Q: Who do you look forward to playing the most during the season?

I think our best game this year was Cincinnati because they had so many fans in the stadium and it’s a pretty good team.  Almost like an MLS team, but they are not an MLS team, but just as good because all of their players played in the MLS before.  And that is the game…that is the test because you think, “if I do good in that game, I think I can play MLS” or “I can play at a better level”.  I think that was an important game for me this year but our game against Charlotte was very exciting for me because one of my best friend’s from last year plays there so I wanted that game so badly.

Q: How do you see the Islanders finishing this season?

It’s hard to say, you know, but we are working to finish in the playoffs.  We are in a bad spot right now but I think the team is making things better.  If we keep working like this, we have the quality players to make the playoffs easily.

Q: What advice would you give to aspiring professional soccer players?

You have to be focused every day.  It is so easy to go into training and just take it easy, or to go into a game and say, “oh, today’s not my best day” and just take it easy. I used to be that guy but I changed because if you want to be professional and live off of this [soccer] and make money in soccer, you have to be better every day, every single day.  They can bring in players every day, especially in higher levels, and everybody wants to be where you are.  I think the key is the mentality…working every day, be careful of the things you do. Don’t think it’s just a hobby or just a sport because it’s your job.  Like people go into the office, you are going onto the field to play, so respect that.  Respect the coach, the staff, and if you have a game tomorrow, don’t go party.

Q: Who is your biggest soccer inspiration?

One of my favorite players is Cristiano Ronaldo but I like different players at different moments.

Q: If you could create your own football “Dream Team”, who would be on it? They could be players that you have played with, ones that you admire, whoever!

Cristiano Ronaldo for sure, that’s one. I’d choose Messi, because I think he’s the best player in the world; Zidane, he’s not playing now but he used to play; Özil, he’s playing in England; Guti, who plays in Spain. I like players who look beautiful with the ball.  There are so many players that I could say more, but if I had to choose players, I would choose those guys for sure.

Q: What are some of your hobbies outside of soccer?

This is like a secret, but I used to play tennis.  Not professionally, but almost professionally.  And when I was younger I had to choose soccer or tennis because I was told that I can’t play both sports at the same time, so I picked soccer, of course, but whenever I can, I play tennis.  Like when I went to Spain for vacation, I played tennis every day.  I love video games, too.  Those are my two hobbies, but I like going places with my parents and my girlfriend.

Q: What is one thing that fans don’t know about Jose Barril that you want to share?

Tennis was one thing; I don’t think people know that. And fans don’t know that I put sugar on my pasta.