Editor’s note: MLS Talk blogger Kristan Heneage recently had the opportunity to interview U.S. international Alejandro Bedoya. The 23-year-old midfielder currently plays his soccer for Örebro in the top flight division of Sweden. Raised in South Florida, Bedoya represents another talented U.S. international player who decided to ply his trade in Europe instead of Major League Soccer.
Kristan Heneage (KH): My first question is, you’re just over two years into your time in Sweden, how are you finding it?
Alejandro Bedoya (AB): Sweden has been nothing but great to me. From the people, the fans, and my teammates it has all been very welcoming. I have no regrets about moving and playing in this country and league. I find Sweden to be a great country with the only complaint being the freezing winters that seem to last all year!
KH: The majority of US players go to college then the Super Draft. What made you decide to go straight to Europe?
AB: Since I was young I feel like I did what most young kids do and watch mostly European soccer and followed the big clubs. I know much has changed since, with MLS establishing itself but I had fallen in love with the soccer in Europe and always aspired to play abroad and test myself. Hey you only live once and I saw an opportunity that I felt I could do something that not many get the chance to do! I have matured greatly as both a player and person.
KH: We’ve seen recently with Giuseppe Rossi players can sometimes chose to play for the country of their parents over the US, did you ever consider representing Columbia?
AB: I never really gave it deep thought. Obviously growing up in a Colombian household we would watch closely the Colombia national teams games and follow the league and players, but I had always considered myself more American being born in the States even though in the summers I would be in Colombia for a few weeks and be playing and training there.
KH: You are arguably at one of Sweden’s better sides, having finished 3rd last season. How do you think playing in the Allsvenskan has improved you as a player?
AB: I think one of the most important part of the professional game that differs from college or amateur is the tactical part of the game. Coming to Sweden I was really taught a lot more about tactics then ever before and that helped me raise my game. I was also put into a very competitive environment and it really made me work hard and just improve everyday with every training whether it be extra sprints or just simple technique work.
KH: Your international debut came when the USA found itself down 3-0. Did that make it easier or harder for you coming on?
AB: I would say neither. I was actually a lot less nervous than i thought I would be. I just came in with the attitude that I am blessed and lucky to be given this chance and to just go out there and show what I can and prove that I belong at this level. It was more of a ‘I have nothing to lose’ type attitude and thinking that there was a reason for me being there so just try and get out there and play my game and try my best. It was an unforgettable experience!
KH: At 23 you are very much seen as one of America’s top prospects along with Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley etc. Do you think the men’s team has potential to go further than it did in South Africa 2010?
AB: Yes!! Of course. Looking back with a little more luck, and I do believe in a little bit of luck, that the USA could have held off Ghana and one or two of our good chances would have gone in and then it would have been a totally different story. As a soccer country we are growing at a fast pace and I won’t be the first or last to say that the talent developing in the States is massive. I can only look forward and hope to be a part of 2014 and future games and also watching future teams do real big things representing the USA National team.
KH: Ok putting your career to one side for a minute, we’d like to know a little bit more about you. What car are you driving at the minute, and what’s in the CD player the most?
AB: Nothing, I don’t need a car in the small city where I live. It is like a mini Amsterdam where many people use bikes. I have an amazing bicycle that gets me around with my iPod and headphones playing stuff from Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Drake, J. Cole, Kid Cudi, and Wale as well as some house music.
Can you remember what you bought with your first months salary?
Yeah, a 52 Inch LCD TV.
Which team did you support as a kid?
Arsenal, Barcelona, Parma.
Who’s your best friend both at club and international level?
At my Club [Örebro] I would say I get along with everyone very well and I’m grateful with that. I hang around a lot with many of the guys off the field. On International level, even though I have yet to play alongside him, Charlie Davies.
What was the first Swedish phrase you learned?
Hi my name is…. Hej, Jag Heter…
What’s the one thing you miss about life in the US?
That is easy for me…The BEACH!!
How do you spend your down time?
I spend time off the field either enjoying a “Fika” with teammates. Fika is like a coffee and snack and lounging around at a coffee-shop, or at someone’s place talking and stuff. If not that then relaxing at home catching up with friends and family via Skype or social networks and many times playing PS3 specifically FIFA or Call of Duty!
What’s been your career highlight?
I think I have three so far that stick out to me. First, it would be when I scored my first 2 professional goals in the Allsvenskan. I would have to say after that I had a great confidence boost and from there on I began in a starting role. Another would have to be my first cap for the USA vs Honduras. Simply a dream come true! Then one of best highlights for me has to be coming in with with the first team with USA and playing against Holland at the Amsterdam Arena. It was a moment that I have always dreamt of playing playing with and against some of the best in the world!
And finally where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I see myself still playing soccer at a high level with a great club in a top league. God willing with hard work and dedication I can get to where I would like to be and where many people dream to play.