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Interview with FGCU Men's Soccer's Albert Ruiz

We spoke with one of FGCU's top rising stars.

Last Friday morning I had the distinct pleasure of sitting down for an interview with FGCU men's soccer's own Albert Ruiz. Ruiz is a freshman forward that stands 6'2", 180 pounds, and has started all seven of the games for the Eagles so far. Albert hails from Barcelona, Spain, putting him about 4,730 miles away from his home.

Admittedly, I am not the world's biggest soccer fan, in fact the only time I watch is every four years when the World Cup rolls around. I'm sure that my definition of "football" is extremely different from what he knows as "fútbol." Despite that, getting to talk to Ruiz one on one was extraordinary to me.

I asked him why he came to America, a country that is not rich in soccer tradition, to continue his playing career. He explained to me that the economic situation in Spain is "difficult," and that there "is not much money in the soccer world." He went on to tell me how Bob Butehorn, head coach of the Eagles, came to see him play at his home, and how he visited FGCU in April where he cited the school, the players, and the climate as reasons he decided to attend.

Like most athletes, Ruiz grew up playing his respective sport. As soon as he was walking, he was playing soccer. He talked about how his grandfather use to be a goalkeeper, and that he learned play forward by trying to score on him as a child.

Considering that it is rarely easy for any new college student, athlete or not, to adjust immediately to a new setting, I asked Ruiz how he is adapting to life at FGCU.

"It's not easy because I have always lived in Barcelona with my friends, family, my girlfriend. I have everything there, and suddenly I am here alone with myself. And you know it's not easy to do everything by yourself, you have to cook, you have to wash your clothes, you have to make payments, you have to do everything by yourself. It's not easy, but it's going well. Everyday is better than the other one."

Ruiz said that so far the decision to come to FGCU has been a good one.

The Eagle soccer team currently has a record of 1-3-3, but was ranked #24 in the country before last weekend. Before Saturday's tie against Brown they had suffered three gut wrenching one goal losses in a row to San Francisco, St. Mary's, and #8 Washington. Despite the tough stretch, Ruiz is still confident in the team's ability to bounce back.

"I think that the most important period will be November with the big games," said Ruiz, "we have to learn and grow to be there as good as we can. This is a process, we are still working. That is all. Big moments and big games will be in November. We are just learning how to win those games."

Although the past week has not gone as planned for the FGCU men's soccer team, coaches across the country have obviously seen something out of them that prompted them to vote the Eagles in the top 25. This is a very talented team that has yet to find its footing. They have scored a total of only 3 goals in 7 games, yet they average over 14.5 shots per game. Once they start finding the back of the net, wins will follow. When I asked him what his expectations were for the team going forward, Ruiz gave an inspired response.

"Why not? We can go to the NCAA tournament, and when we get there let's see what happens." 

Funny he should answer like that. It reminds me of the attitude of another FGCU athletic team that made it to the NCAA tournament.

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