Who’s your favourite No.10 then?
Lothar Matthaus. Whenever I think of the number 10 I think about that block number 10 on the back of the 1990 Germany kit. He was the first player I was fascinated by watching — charging up and down the field, just blowing by defenders and getting hacked down in the process.
What first got you interested in soccer?
My Dad was a basketball, baseball and American football player in high school and picked up tennis and hockey later in life, so I literally played every single sport growing up. I played football at a high level from a very young age so I think that’s what mostly kept me into it, like any kid would. Later in life as I was able to travel the world, I fell in love with the relationship people have with football in other countries. It’s inextricable from life and culture and history and politics and that’s what I find most fascinating.
How did Tens Club get started?
I started the Tens Club newsletter mostly because I wanted something to work on as a side project and engage with the creative football community. I had the idea of curating a monthly newsletter about old players who wore the number 10, but to focus only on their style, politics and their interests away from the field.
The football archives are endlessly inspiring, so there’s no limit to how many of these stories can be told. Pretty soon, I realised I could create a piece of apparel each month inspired by whatever story I was telling, and use the newsletter as the vehicle to sell it.
There seems to be a decent creative scene in the city – with projects like CSNYC, Nowhere FC and yourselves – how would you describe the scene in NYC?
I see the CSC guys playing on my walk to the train in the morning and am good friends with some of the Bowery FC guys, I even play for Nowhere FC myself. Because I’m so close to it all, it feels incredibly crowded, but I think that’s good.
The football community here in NYC is a very interconnected group of really creative people who also happen to be really damn good footballers.
It’s made up of people from all over the world, all playing and creating a lot of cool stuff — whether in the football world or outside of it. I think that’s created a scene that’s not only the best in America, it rivals what’s going on in London, Paris and Milan.
What was the U.S. reaction to the national team not getting through to the World Cup? Think there will be any interest in the tournament non-football fans?
I still find the fact that we didn’t qualify very irritating and unreal. People are trying to find solace in the fact that Italy, Chile and the Netherlands didn’t qualify it either, but that doesn’t help. It’s a huge setback for the sport in this country, no doubt, but I’m not any less excited about the tournament.
In terms of non-football fans, I think there will still be plenty of interest. When you take the nationalist element out of it I think it’s an opportunity Americans to see how beautiful the game truly is, and not an excuse to chug Budweisers during work hours.
Which sports brand do you think is doing the best stuff right now?
This is a tough question, because I’m a hater and I don’t think much of what’s out there is very interesting. I think heritage brands like Kappa, Champion and Fila have it easy because my generation has a lot of purchasing power and we are eating that stuff up. Bigger brands are being lazy and not investing as much as they should in the culture of the sport (especially in America).
I don’t think Nike needs to use Virgil as a crutch, I don’t think Adidas needs to re-release everything from 1994. Heritage-inspired design is cool and fun for the smaller, independent brands, but that shouldn’t define this era. I expect a lot more innovation, inventiveness and ingenuity from the big brands, and that’s a lot easier said than done.