Though his country Colombia have missed out on appearing at the 2006 and 2010 FIFA World Cups™, Los Cafeteros at least had a representative at both tournaments in the shape of singer Juanes. Having performed at the Final Draw for Germany 2006, this time around the pop star was in South Africa taking part in 10 June’s FIFA World Cup Kick-Off Celebration Concert.

Just a few short hours after playing in front of 30,000 spectators in Soweto’s Orlando Stadium, the 37-year-old fan of Atletico Nacional de Medellin, his hometown club, spoke to about music, football and the FIFA World Cup. Juanes, how does it feel to have performed at the Final Draw for Germany 2006 and now the Kick-Off Celebration Concert at South Africa 2010?
Juanes: It feels even better this time around. When you are invited to take part in an event like this you think it’ll be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. So when you get asked along again you enjoy it twice as much. It’s wonderful to have been part of such an important concert in a country with so much history. I felt very happy and honoured.

Does the fact this is Africa’s first FIFA World Cup finals make it more special?
Of course! I think it’s great I’ve been able to share a stage with musicians from different parts of Africa, with the rhythms and the energy they have, which is something very special.

Truthfully, I’d like a Latin country to win the title and if not then I’d like it to go to a nation that’s not won it before, like an African team.


Why do you think you keep getting called up for these football-related events?
I don’t know if it’s just because of my songs. One thing I am sure of is that, while culture is closely connected to the world of sport in general, music and football in particular make an explosive mix. Both things really touch people’s hearts.

Is the fact that you and Shakira have both been involved here any consolation for Colombia having failed to qualify?
Maybe! (laughs) Joking aside, it’s no substitute. It’s a real blow that the Colombian national team aren’t here, but we’re getting used to that now. We’re hoping to be back at the finals in Brazil (2014).

What’s your first FIFA World Cup memory?
It’s from Italy 1990, the day Freddy Rincon scored a last-minute equaliser against Germany in the first round and we qualified for the last 16.

Which side do you think is set to win the world title?
Spain are in with a great chance, while Argentina and Brazil have solid sides. Truthfully, I’d like a Latin country to win the title and if not then I’d like it to go to a nation that’s not won it before, like an African team, in order to put football on the map somewhere else.

Which player do you admire the most?
Lionel Messi. Quite simply, he’s a genius.

Who would you rate as the Messi of the music world and why?
The Argentinian musician Gustavo Cerati because he’s a star, a genius like Messi. He is, without a doubt, one of the finest guitarists and singers Latin American music has ever produced. From here I’d like to take the opportunity to wish him all the best for his recovery. (Editor’s note: Cerati suffered a stroke and has been in a critical condition for the past month)

And who is the Juanes of the football world?
That’s a tough one! I don’t know, maybe [Carlos] ‘El Pibe’ Valderrama! (laughs)

Do you play football often?
Yes, but I’m really bad. I always go up front and hang around near the goal, but as I said, it’s not my forte.

Finally, what if you had to choose between performing at the opening ceremony of Brazil 2014 or Colombia qualifying for that FIFA World Cup?
Colombia qualifying! Because it’s involves an entire country, especially one like mine where the people really suffer and go through difficult situations. Football is a very important form of release, and it’s very sad to miss out on that. Let’s hope we can make it (to Brazil)!