Welcome to my Blog!
Hi everybody and welcome to my blog. This is really me, Julian, writing this and I really hope that this platform becomes another way for me to share some experiences throughout my career with all of you, the fans. Through this blog, I will try and tell different stories, give my opinion on certain topics, answer and ask different questions, and just hope to provide a more in-depth look into what is happening in my life. I like this outlet because it really gives me a chance to be in full control of what I say and how I say it and it also provides an opportunity to become even more accessible. I understand that as a professional athlete my words can be powerful and I can take full advantage of that here. Therefore, please share your opinions by leaving comments and sharing on social media. From time to time I might respond to certain comments or even dive a bit deeper with a full post if something very interesting comes up. With all of that in mind, the first post can only be about one topic, YOU!
As many of you know and hopefully see, I am a guy that tries to have a very close relationship with the fans. This might be because I have been in your shoes, I know how it feels to stand behind the goal singing and cheering on the team you support with almost everything you have. I know how it feels to watch your team play on TV and be shaking because of excitement and nervousness. I feel that as a player I want to always keep that in mind and also give back some of it to show my appreciation, and honestly, it is also fun for me. I have played in front of 10, 20, or just 50 people before and I promise all of you that it is so much better to play in front of 70k+. It is not just that, however, it goes so much further than just filling the stadium. Would we have been able to make the playoffs in our inaugural season or win MLS Cup in our second year of existence? I am a big believer in the fact that your support holds everybody at Atlanta United to a higher standard – from the highest ranked people in the club down to the youth academy and that has had a lot to do with why we have been so successful on the field. With my actions, I am just trying to show my appreciation for all of you and say thank you for all you do for us players and our whole club.
When I first got to Atlanta, it was a very exciting time for me. Being drafted and fulfilling the dream of becoming a professional soccer player was such a great experience by itself. However, I have always been a person that looks further, so I told myself to not be caught up in the fact that I made it to this point. I told myself to not change and come to Atlanta, work hard on the field to be able to play and take the next step quickly. Next thing you know, my family is in town and I am in the starting 11 for our inaugural match against the New York Red Bulls. That day was special! Not just for me I can imagine, probably for a lot of you, too. A couple weeks go by and all I can see on social media is my new nickname ‘GRESSELMANIA’. At first I was kind of blown away by the fact that you came up with a nickname for me after only playing in three games for the club and as a professional. It was a big honor for me, even though I was not quite sure of how to interpret it. Was I playing too physical? Do I look like a wrestler out there? Honestly, I am not a big wrestling fan and did not really know what to make of it at first. I kind of just told myself to see it as a positive thing and keep doing what I was doing on the field because it has worked all preseason and the first few weeks of the season. As it continued throughout the season and until today, it has become something that makes me very proud. To have supporters create something for you in that way is special. From the chant, to signs, and all the different kinds of shirts, it is a real privilege to have that unique nickname created by all of you!
Throughout my time here in Atlanta, I have been able to meet a lot of supporters. If that is after games, at official appearances, or me walking through midtown, it is always nice to be able to connect with fans. I am not going to lie, especially at appearances it can get a bit overwhelming sometimes when you meet so many people in such a short amount of time. However, it never gets old seeing the big smiles people have when they come up and when they share their unique story about what connects them to Atlanta United or an experience they may have had at a game. These interactions are special and it really shows how much this city and this club means to everybody. So please, if you ever see me and are not sure if you should come up to me or not, do it.
I thought it was only fitting to start this blog with a bit of an appreciation post for all of you. It has been a great experience and a lot of fun to be part of Atlanta United from the very beginning and it has definitely been better than I could have ever imagined. I thank you all for that and hope that we can continue on this path, obviously with a lot of success on the field, too. Again, I hope this blog is going to be a fun way for me to voice my opinions and becomes another way for all of you to feel even more connected to the club and us players.