'Nothing in the world can beat football'
Over the last few years Juan Esteban Aristizabal, better known as Juanes, has become one of the world's biggest rock stars. The man behind major international hits such as A Dios Le Pido and La Camisa Negra began his musical career at the age of 15 in Medellin, Colombia, when he founded the heavy metal band Ekhimosis. After staying with the group for 12 years and five albums, Juan Esteban shortened his name to Juanes and embarked on a solo career. Four years and three albums later he has become the biggest-selling and, arguably, most respected Latin music star in the world.
A singer, guitarist, producer and the writer of all his songs, Juanes has based his career on one thing and one thing only: his music. This approach has seen him pick up a staggering nine Latin Grammy awards, five MTV awards and six Premio Lo Nuestro awards, not to mention a host of other international accolades.
The Colombian star broke away from rehearsals for his concert on the eve of the 2006 FIFA World Cup Final to give FIFAworldcup.com an exclusive interview.
Juanes, what does the game of football represent to you?
For me football is a religion, a moment when the whole world comes together in one faith and shares its passion for the game.
How do you think Germany 2006 has gone?
I think it's been a great World Cup and I've really enjoyed it. I've not been able to see that many games because I've been travelling a lot. The fact it's been played in Germany, a country I find fascinating, has made it even better. I honestly think it has been fantastic and there's been a surprise or two on the way, like this year's finalists for example.
What for you is the most inspiring thing about the FIFA World Cup?
What I like to see more than anything else is the football itself, but I just love the passion the game arouses in the fans too. It's something that transcends all boundaries and borders. It's not just a game of 11 against 11 it's one country against another. There's no doubt football has the power to generate some amazing things.
Is football a sensible way of resolving conflicts?
I just wish we could use football to resolve all the conflicts in the world today. Sometimes, of course, the passion in the stands boils over and leads to violence, but for me this has been a real festival for the whole world. People have been able to ease their suffering over the last few weeks thanks to the World Cup, and that's the best thing about it.
It seems to be something you believe in very strongly
Nothing in the world can beat football. There are many religions, but there's only one that everyone believes in and that's football.
How did you get into the game?
I started playing when I was at secondary school. I used to play in physical education classes but I was terrible, and the fact is I haven't improved much (laughs). I've always enjoyed playing, though, and when we're on tour we get the ball out and have a game, but it's been a while since I last played.
How did you feel about Colombia not reaching Germany 2006?
You've no idea how much that hurt. I think about it every time I see a game at the World Cup and it's really hard. I'm convinced we'll be there in South Africa, though.
Do you have a message for the fans?
People have to remember that football is only a game, that it shouldn't lead to anything negative. It's a game to enjoy, nothing more and nothing less.
What links do you see between the world of football and that of music?
They're very similar. The World Cup, for example, has given me the chance to play in Germany and bring me even closer to the country. There is definitely one thing in common and that's passion. They're obsessions and they really strike a nerve. Football does it through your feet and music through words, but the principle is the same.
What position would Juanes the musician play in?
I'd have to play up front. I'd go crazy anywhere else, particularly in goal. (Laughs)
Full name - Nationality:
Juanes (Juan Esteban Aristizabal) - Colombian
Brazil, Atletico Nacional of Medellin
A message or a website:
Current and future projects:
I've just done a promotional tour in Japan and now I'm on tour in Europe. I've just played a big concert in Germany.
The best game you have ever seen:
The first FIFA World Cup you ever saw and your first idol:
Mexico 1986, Diego Armando Maradona.
The FIFA World Cup game you would most like to see or play in: