Tall, lean and fit, it would be easy to mistake 18-year old August Rosenmeier for an upcoming talent in Denmark’s Superligaen. While the Copenhagen native does enjoy playing amateur football, it’s on the virtual football pitch where his pedigree has been established.
With three appearances at the FIFA Interactive World Cup Grand Final - the most recent of which secured him his first ever interactive world title in front of a packed audience in Rio de Janeiro – ‘Agge’ Rosenmeier has made his mark on virtual football. The new world champion at the EA SPORTS FIFA-series spoke exclusively to FIFA.com and reflected on the long journey that led him to fulfilling his FIWC dream in Brazil.
“I started playing FIFA in 2002. I was six years old,” says August. “I would play with Arsenal and my older brother would always chose Inter”. When older brother Tim, already well into his teens, began losing to his little brother by 6-0 score lines, he knew he had a natural on his hands. “My brother began signing me up for local tournaments,“ recalls August. “He has always been there for me and always supported me through this hobby. While other people would say “Why is he playing so much, isn’t it a little bit weird?” my brother would stand up for me.”
Just a few weeks after his fifteenth birthday, August would sit in front of his computer and watch a live stream on YouTube that would change his life. The gold medal final for the FIFA Interactive World Cup 2011 was streamed live from Los Angeles. The world watched as 16-year old Francisco Cruz became the youngest ever FIWC champion at the expense of a crest-fallen Javier Munoz from Colombia. “The minute I saw Cruz lift the trophy," recounts Rosenmeier, "I said to myself ‘I have to be at a Grand Final’.”
A year later, August had successfully qualified for the 2012 Grand Final in Dubai. His tournament ended abruptly in the group stage, however, after suffering three losses and two draws in five games. “From Dubai I learned so much about the game. The secret tips. The things that make the difference between the good players and the best players,” he says. “Playing live against the top players and seeing how they do things and how they time things... as soon as I got back home from Dubai I started to practice hard.”
Maturation in Madrid
August would qualify once again the following year. At the FIWC 2013 Grand Final in Madrid, he worked his way through the pack and secured a quarterfinal birth. Unfortunately, his quarterfinal opponent would be the most decorated FIWC player of all time - Bruce Grannec. The Frenchman would defeat him 1-0 en route to winning the tournament.
“In Madrid, I learnt about the winning mentality,” says the Scandinavian. “I got to understand Bruce a little bit better… how calm he is no matter what the situation is, whether he goes a goal down or takes the lead. I still see Bruce as the best FIFA player, but of course my ambition is to beat his amazing record.”
The ‘mentality’ is what Rosenmeier believes made all the difference in Brazil. “To be honest, when I made it into the semi-finals I expected to win it,” he says. “I really don’t want to sound arrogant, but I felt confident at that point. All four of us were amazing players and we were very even, but the difference was the mentality, and that comes from experience. I’ve cultivated that mentality over the last couple of years and finally it was my time to go all the way.”
‘Agge’ may have been motivated, but it was opponent David Bytheway that would take the lead with an early 17th minute goal in the Final, which took place on Sugarloaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro. “When I went behind against David, I was not even thinking ‘now I’m going to lose’. People who know me will say that I’m an ambitious person and that I never give up. I just stayed very calm because I knew that there was lots of time to play. I scored three goals and won pretty comfortably.”
The new champion was handed the FIFA Interactive World Cup trophy by Brazilian legend Ronaldo and received a cheque for USD 20,000 in prize money and an invitation to the FIFA Ballon d’Or. He still finds it hard to believe that come January 2015 he will be spending a night shaking hands and sharing words with the biggest names in football. “It’s amazing,” says Rosenmeier. “I still haven’t really processed it. It’s pure happiness.”