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Alexander Callens is a Peruvian international who has 11 appearances for La Blanquirroja and has recently been called up for the upcoming friendlies versus Paraguay and El Salvador. He is currently a centre-back for New York City FC in Major League Soccer.
Diego Montalvan spoke to Callens about his recent Peru call-up, their upcoming friendlies, Copa America, his time at New York City FC and more.
First of all, thank you for your time. I want to talk to you about your recent call up to the national team. How do you feel? What does it mean to you?
Very happy! I’m very happy for this new opportunity and I’m very excited to be wearing the jersey again.
There were questions about why some players were called up, including you. Ricardo Gareca said that you’re consistently playing at your club and at a good level. How does it feel to hear him have your back?
I’m really happy because he’s the coach of the national team and that motivates me. It motivates me to work harder and harder and it makes me believe I’m doing things right.
Peru is living in a good moment when it comes to centre-backs. There’s Ramos, Santamaria, Araujo, Abram, yourself and some youngsters creeping up. What does that competition do to you?
It’s really good! As you said, my teammates are at a good level and I think that that makes us all force ourselves to maintain that level. It’s a plus because whoever plays will do it well.
What are your expectations with the upcoming friendly with Paraguay?
I think we will get some conclusions from the friendlies because we’re nearing the Copa America. We got these games and then the tournament. I think for the coaches it’s good because they will be making some decisions. The games themselves will be good as well because all the players will be giving their all.
As a player and a Peruvian what do you think is a realistic goal for Peru in Copa America?
Peru’s goal is always to make it to the final. These last few years we’ve made it to the semifinals. I think it’s a new opportunity to make that step. The way we’re playing, I think we can do it.
Besides Peru do you have any other team listed as your favourite for the tournament?
Nah, I’m of the mindset that there are no favourites. There are no favourites … On the field we’re 11 versus 11 and a thousand things can happen in a match. The only thing Peru has to do is play how we always have and leave it all on the field.
Speaking of playing how we (Peru) always have … Many people have only seen Peru play for the first time in our return to the World Cup. Did any of your teammates talk to you about it?
Oh yes! Many people were surprised because they didn’t know how we played. I think we faced many big teams in the World Cup and we controlled the possession, playing very offensive. I think we have players with so much quality that can play that way.
How do you feel at NYCFC?
I am very happy! Very happy here as you have seen. I get along well with all my teammates. This is my third year here and it’s like home. I always try and work hard and support the team in any way I can.
What’s the next goal for NYCFC?
The objectives here are always high. We want a league or a cup and in the last couple of years, we’ve gone out in the semifinals and so that’s something that bothers us because we have a good enough team to get to where we want.
Three seasons in the U.S., how’s your English?
Haha! I get better every day, learning new words with my coworker here always helping me to learn. Step by step I’m getting there.
After two draws to begin the season, how do you feel? What needs to be done?
Yes, the team is getting better the more we play together. The more you play, the more we’re committed, we’re gaining confidence. As you said we have two ties and that last tie at home is like losing to me. I don’t like that! Now we have LAFC and we have to play our game and play to our style.
What is the next goal or dream for Alexander Callens as a footballer?
One always dreams of winning a World Cup with Peru, a Champions League, win everything you can. Be the best defender. These are my goals and that’s why I always work at 100 per cent and always with humility.
Thank you, Alexander. Good luck this weekend, we wish you the best y Arriba Peru!