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Valderamma: many reasons to smile

By ROGER MILLS

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 8, 2001


He is Carlos Valderamma, one of the most visible players in international soccer, and in his second stint with the Mutiny. Through interpreter Janet Vasquez, Mutiny sales manager for the Hispanic community, here is El Pibe on his fears, his hair, his children, playing in the World Cup, the Virgin Mary and his ability to speak English:

RM: Do you have any fears?

CV: No. There really isn't anything that I'm afraid of really. But I guess I'm not afraid of death, but I am afraid of having to leave my children. Now that they are so young, I'm fearful of leaving them on their own.

RM: It is said that you know no love greater than what you have for your wife, until you have children. Do you agree?

CV: The love for your kids is a different kind of love, for sure. But I love my wife more now because she has given me children. I know that it is very important to teach them right from wrong and provide for them. That makes it a little different and very special.

RM: You have grown kids?

CV: Yes. Alan is 17, Kenny is 13 and Carlos is 6.

RM: What's up with the hair?

CV: It's natural.

RM: No, truthfully, what do you have to do to get that hair?

CV: It's natural.

RM: Does it bother you that your hair has kind of become your identity.

CV: Not really. It is who I am. It is my personality. I like it. I had it before playing soccer, I have it now, and I'll have it long after I'm finished playing.

RM: What about your brothers and sisters, is their hair like that?

CV: They all have naturally curly hair. All of them. And they all had (the color) at one point when they were younger.

RM: You want to coach after you're finished playing?

CV: I love soccer. It's inside of me. It's in my blood. I want to be able to extend that out to young players and coach them. It's what I always wanted to do when I retired, even when I was little. RM: What is it like playing in the World Cup tournament?

CV: It's an unforgettable experience. Everybody, every player has that goal to one day play in a World Cup tournament and to be able to accomplish that goal is hard to describe.

RM: When you think about former teammate Andres Escobar, who was killed in Colombia allegedly for scoring an own goal against America, what comes to mind?

CV: It's very difficult for me to talk about him. It's very painful. He was very close to me. We were very good friends, very good friends. That has been my worst experience playing the sport.

RM: What does that say about the importance of the sport in some countries?

CV: It's their passion. It's not like here. It is nothing like (people in the United States) know. People eat, sleep, breathe soccer. You wake up with the sport, you go to sleep with the sport. Here in America, it's a lot different because there are so many other sports.

RM: Is there a story behind the bracelets?

CV: They represent different gifts from different people. They represent love and friendship. RM: That's a lot of love, Carlos.

CV: Si. . . .

RM: What's your religion?

CV: I'm Catholic.

RM: So you know the Bible?

CV: I do.

RM: Is it fact or fiction?

CV: It is fact; it is true.

RM: If Mary was on Earth today and said she was carrying a child through immaculate conception, would anyone believe her?

CV: It's not possible. It's that way in the Bible, but it's not possible. No one would believe her.

RM: Any idea how the animals on Noah's ark got along?

CV: How am I supposed to know?

RM: Was there harmony in that cramped space?

CV: They lasted such a long time that they must have lived among each other much like how we live today.

RM: If they only took two of each animal, what did Noah feed the lions?

CV: Wow, I don't know. They must have eaten something.

RM: Hooligans have become part of soccer's image, does that annoy?

CV: It is saddening. I know that it happens but it's not everybody. It's not the entire stadium. It's a small group. If I had the authority I would kick them all out.

RM: How's your English?

CV: I'm learning. It's getting better.

RM: Ever curse the referees in Spanish?

CV: When I first got here, I did, but now I don't say anything.

RM: Did they understand you?

CV: Loud and clear.

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