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PLAYER PROFILE: Julian Lucumi Villegas

By Leslie Soffa, 06/25/19, 8:15AM EDT


To feature another Reading United player leading up to Latin
Heritage Night this Wednesday, Julian Lucumi is ready for his time in the spotlight. Julian, United’s multi-positioned player at defense and midfielder, is from Cali, Colombia playing his first season for United after moving to America a few years ago. For the fans to get to know a
little bit more about the players they are cheering on, we sat down and talked to them about their heritage, home, and changes they made to play a sport they love.

Where are you from?
I am from Cali, Colombia

What’s different and similar from your home compared to the US?
There are a lot of differences in between Colombia and US but the main ones I would say are the language, the culture, and the food.

Was the move to the US easy or hard & why?
The move to US wasn’t not easy because I came here by myself when I was 18 years old, I think I left home at a pretty young age and that was one of the hardest parts, leaving my family... especially my mom.

Also, the language barrier in the beginning made the transition a lot tougher because I didn’t speak a single word in English, so it was very difficult for me to communicate. Thank God since I came here I was playing soccer all the time, so soccer was like a relief for me, whenever I was feeling down. Soccer helped me to stay here through the bad
moments when I was feeling that I wanted to go back home. It helped me keep fighting for my dream and to get a good education. Soccer is Happiness for me, it means my whole life.

I just wanted to say that I came here mainly to pursuit my dream of becoming a professional soccer player, and a good thing that I like here in the U.S. is the system that allows you to get a good education while playing the sport that you like at the same time. That's something that you are not allowed to do in many other countries

What type of cultural difference do you mean?
I would say that the type of difference I noticed here in US was that here people are more focused on themselves and their jobs, because of course the workforce here demands a lot. Sometimes that is a problem because people forget about simple things as it is to say good morning, good afternoon or good night to other people. Which is part of the value of being kind as a person. In Colombia people are a lot more open and friendly. It’s normal in Colombia to say those things to random people.

Don’t get me wrong “ I’m not saying that because people here don’t usually say hi to somebody that they don’t know is bad, I just think is a difference in the culture. Also, the diversity of cultures that you are able to find in the United States is incredible due to the fact that you can find people from all parts of the world here.

What was the schooling system like in Columbia?
The education in Colombia is really good. I would say it's sometimes harder in some aspects than here in America, but here I think there is a lot more of opportunities after you graduate. Also, the opportunity to learn a new language (English), which I think in Colombia the English that is taught in the schools is not the best one.

What do you miss about home?
What I miss the most is my family and of course the food as well.

What’s your favorite thing to do at home?
Hang out with my cousins, with my friends, to be with the people that I love.

Something you would like people to know about your hometown/ a fun fact?
Colombia is a very beautiful country, people are very kind and friendly, we have a diversity of landscapes. My hometown “Jamundi” is recognized by having a lot of natural rivers going around the town in which people can go swimming. We also have a tipical fruit ice cream called “cholado” which was invented in “jamundi”.

What was your favorite meal growing up?
Favorite meal growing up was “bandeja paisa,” which is rice, beans, plantains, pork , chicken, beef, avocado, eggs and arepa which is a Colombia corn bread

How did you first get into soccer & what was the experience like?
My father was the first person that got me into soccer. He took me when I was 6 years old to my first team and from then everything begun. I felt in love with the sport.

What professional player do you look up to the most?
The player that I look up the most in my position is Marcelo which plays for Real Madrid

What do you like most about your time in Reading with the team?
What I like the most being at reading is the people that I am getting to know, my teammates, we have an amazing family in the team and getting to know new people is something priceless in life.

What do you do in your free time around here?
I usually go to the gym in my free time or hang out with the boys. The UNO tournaments are getting intense out here.