Christian Fuchs is a multi-faceted person. Professional footballer. Premier League champion. Former captain of the Austrian National team. Clothing brand owner. Social media personality. Soccer camp owner. And even NFL hopeful.
On his recent trip to NYC during this past International break, I had the chance to catch up with Christian and chat through a variety of topics. Not only is he an exceptional footballer, but also a very sharp and thoughtful person who has a ton of things going on and I sense that his current professional career is only the beginning for Christian.
You are in NYC during the international break, can you tell us a bit about the projects that you have going on here?
I have Fox Soccer Academy, which we started three years ago. My son was signed up for one of the better soccer academies in the area at that time, and I was disappointed in the quality of training. They weren't really doing the fundamental stuff. I realized that I have the resources and the knowledge, so I said "Let's do it ourselves." That was how it started. So far we have had three kids from New York go overseas to train in Austria and England and we have had good feedback for all of them. We are very ambitious with it, and for now, are running clinics every month. When I make the move over here, we are going to try nd expand it a lot.
You mentioned the idea of starting the camp was that you weren't really happy with the coaching that your son was being offered. What are the biggest differences in what you saw was being coached and the curriculum that Fox Soccer Academy is implementing?
Our training is mostly based on how we train in England. We create a syllabus that is based on the English Premier League system and that is used for the Premier League. Based on that, we try to teach the best knowledge and the best training to our kids that join our academy. When I compare players from the US to players overseas, they are are very technical, very fit, good ball control - what they are lacking in many situations is good tactical understanding. We are trying to show them and and trying to help them understand. Other than that, I'm telling you that from the technique and fitness levels, they are quite good. It's mostly about tactical knowledge that they simply don't understand as much as they would in Europe.
The good thing is that this is teachable. The US players have a good starting point in that their fitness level is simply great. So we spend time working on the tactical side to better help them understand this side of the game.
I read that you recently partnered with StreetSoccerUSA, can you talk a little bit about what that entails?
Everything started about ten days ago or so, when my wife attended a breakfast that they hosted. She was so convinced by what they were doing. She knows that I like to give back to kids and provide training for everybody as much as possible. She convinced me that we needed to approach them and see if we could make something happen. Tomorrow, we have our first training together here in New York and I hope that it is the start of something bigger. They are really doing a great job. Helping kids get off the street and developing a lot for the game and I especially want to support that.
Changing directions quickly - you also have a clothing brand called No Fuchs Given.
I never really planned on doing this. It was never really in any of my interests. But that's life. Life takes weird turns here and there. But I'm really happy that it did. It's a project that I love and it's something that a lot of people identify with.
The way it started was easy. I had "No Fuchs Given" established when I came to Leicester. I was challenging different people, teammates and fans, to challenges that were simply fun. I asked a brand that I worked with back then if they wanted to partner on this. The views and interactions were amazing so I thought they would want to do it together. But they weren't convinced. So I decided to do my own thing. And then we were just brainstorming what would symbolize No Fuchs Given and we came up with a skull that is smiling because it should always be a fun thing. The requests for those t-shirts were so strong that we wanted to give it a try.
I'm still learning day by day, which is great because we are only doing this for two years so far. But it's such an exciting project, and it really keeps me busy aside from football. I simply love it.
Since you started the company, has there been anything that has surprised you the most about trying to build a clothing brand?
It's just the time you have to invest, which I didn't expect. It's not just printing something on a shirt and that's it. It's all the logistics behind it. When I see something like a Cavalli shirt for $200, and I know that the production cost might be a tenth of that, I feel like they should sell it for $400 because I know all the work that goes into it. It's not only production, it's about promotion, it's about marketing. It takes a good amount of my daily life at the moment. But that actually helps me focus even more on my sporting life.
You mentioned a little bit about the challenges that you do on social media. They are incredible and you are always having so much fun with whoever you are challenging. Do you have a favorite challenge or a favorite person that you have challenged?
As long as I win I don't care who I am playing against! But I want to keep it genuine, and I really don't mind taking the punishment because I don't give a Fuchs anyway.
I'm doing my challenges based on who I am playing against. I don't really have a favorite as long as it's fun.
Speaking of social media, I saw a picture of you and Gary Vee together. Two social media mavens in the same picture. Did he have any social media advice or insight for you?
When I met with him he didn't have a lot of time because he was busy with his K-Swiss launch. Before I went there, I watched a video of him which impressed me a lot. He was talking about his first steps on social media and he said that it's very important to keep the communication open and he literally answered every single comment on Twitter or Instagram. He personally answered them, which is very impressive to me because it takes a lot of work. Based on his following now, he might not be able to answer them all personally now. But that was very impressive and very interesting to me that he sees this not as a one-way street, but as a two-way street with communication in both directions. Not only showing how you are but interacting with your fans.
Changing directions again - I have to ask a couple of questions about Leicester City's Premier League winning season.
It's not so long ago that we can still talk about it like it's recent.
That's very true. I read something that you wrote in The Player's Tribune and I will quote it. "I turned to my wife and said the following - I'll be coming home a Premier League champion." In parenthesis you write that just writing that gave you goose bumps. It gave me the same feeling reading it right now.
It's honestly giving me goose bumps right now. Being a champion sounds so amazing.
There was so much talk and media speculation in the final months of that season about whether Leicester could win the title. I'm curious what that moment was like when you finally knew it and were able to express that to your wife.
Did you see the video that I posted right when it was the final whistle of the Chelsea v Tottenham game?
That video expresses everything. It was very emotional. It was definitely the best moment in my football career. But it's hard to describe. It's really hard to describe. The only thing better is to see your kids born. Other than that, there is not too much that can top that.
CHAMPIONS!!!! pic.twitter.com/pFtvo5XUNx— Christian Fuchs (@FuchsOfficial) May 2, 2016
I feel that at some point Hollywood is going to make a movie about Leicester City winning the Premier League.
I hope so!
I hope so too! When that movie gets made, who would play you in the movie?
Ryan Reynolds. I've already been asked if I would be happy if Ryan would play my role. I said "Ryan, you need to lose some weight."
First of all, if they would make a movie about that, it would be outstanding. I wouldn't be too worried about who would be playing me as long as whoever it is will be almost as good looking as I am.
You're quite familiar with soccer in the US, do you have any thoughts on Zlatan signing with the LA Galaxy?
I think he's a great addition to MLS. He's a great character. He has been a very successful player in Europe. You will enjoy him playing here because he is simply a different type of player. He's able to do anything. Maybe not defending, but attacking he is a force. It will be a great addition to LA and the whole MLS.
Can we hope to see you playing in MLS when you make the move to the US?
I'm looking forward to that. It might happen at some point. It's no secret that I'm going to make my personal move to New York next summer so I'm definitely open for that. If MLS doesn't want me, I will simply join the NFL and kick some other balls.
Last question - when did you fall in love with soccer?
Football is one of the top two sports in Austria. Either you ski or play ball. It is part of the culture and it was part of my upbringing. I've always been passionate about it. I was in love with the sport from the very beginning of my life, watching, playing and supporting Manchester United as a child because of Eric Cantona.
Thanks for your time and all the best the rest of this season.