Altidore, an American abroad
© Foto-net

Villarreal coach Manuel Pellegrini has splashed out $10 million for 18-year-old American striker Jozy Altidore, making the teenager the most expensive US export in history. A veteran of every level of his country's youth national team, the Haitian-American powerhouse has bags of pace, power and a killer's eye for important goals.

Having scored 15 times in 37 games for Red Bull New York, Altidore is considered one of the hottest properties in the American game. Before he lines up for the Yellow Submarine in La Liga and the UEFA Champions League, though, young Jozy will join the US Olympic team as they hunt a first-ever medal in Beijing.

He sat down to talk club and country with from his new home in sunny Spain. How does it feel to finally be in Spain, after your record American transfer?
Jozy Altidore: It's crazy. There was all this talk and I was caught in the middle. One minute you're going and the deal is definitely on and then the next minute it's definitely off and then it flips around over and over. I couldn't be more excited about being here at Villarreal. To be playing in Spain is a really exciting thing for me as a young player.

Villarreal coach Pellegrini is known as somebody who sees quality in players that other coaches might miss. Have you had a chance to sit with him and discuss your role at the club next year?
With training several times a day and getting adjusted to a new place, I haven't had a lot of time to sit down with the coach [Pellegrini], but he spoke to me when I arrived and told me that when I finish up with the Olympics this August, he wants me to come back to Villarreal and join up with the team. That's a good sign and gives me something to look forward to.

As you say, you've already had a chance for a few training sessions. Is the level different from Major League Soccer?
It's already become pretty obvious to me that soccer here in Spain is always about possession, about keeping the ball and unbalancing the other team by moving it around. I knew the Spanish league would be technical, but it's becoming more and more apparent to me just how technical it is. When we play squad games in training, the emphasis is always on keeping possession of the ball. I think this is a good thing for me but it will take some time to adjust.

And the language? How's your Spanish at the moment?
I've been working on my Spanish and it's getting better all the time. It could still use a little polishing, but I'm going to keep trying.

It must be a thrill to have landed at a club that will be playing in the Champions League next year, after finishing second in La Liga last year.
I'm thrilled to take my development to the next level and raise the profile of American players in Europe.

Before thinking about La Liga you have the Olympics in Beijing in August with the USA. You must be excited.
Taking part in the Olympic Games is a special thing. It's universal and it has special meaning throughout the world. All of the countries that are going are sending very strong teams. This is a competitive thing, this is no joke. I've been playing in the US youth system for a long time and this is just the logical next step. I am honoured to be a part of such a good team, and we'll be going to Beijing hoping to win ourselves a medal.

The squad list was recently released and there are a lot of your past team-mates on it.
Peter Nowak [US U-23 coach] has put together a very good US team. A lot of the players I have played with before like Michael Bradley, Danny Szetela and Freddy Adu, but I think the coach has got himself a great mix of youth and experienced guys in the team.

Brian McBride is coming out of international retirement to play in Beijing. He could be an interesting strike partner for you.
I'm thrilled to get the chance to play with McBride, who I used to watch when I was a kid. He's a total professional and a real example to a lot of the younger guys. I think it will bring something extra to the team to have him there with all of his experience on the biggest stages like the World Cup and the English Premier League.

What are your expectations for the Olympic finals? Can the US make a major impact?
We've been practising for this tournament for a long time. It feels like the culmination of something. With the players we have, and the preparations we've made, there's no telling what we can do or how far we can go in Beijing.

It's a tough group you've landed in, alongside Nigeria, the Netherlands and Japan.
It is a tough one. It could be the toughest in the competition, but I don't think we'll be overawed by any of our opponents. They should be concerned with us.

Do you see the Olympics as a way to get yourself in the frame for the senior US team's group-stage qualifying campaign for South Africa 2010?
I've not got as many calls up to the senior side as I'd like, but all I can do is play well in tournaments like the Olympics, do my best and hope that [US coach] Bob Bradley notices me and wants to use me. I hope to be called in for the group stages of the qualifiers for South Africa 2010 and I'll keep doing my best to help make that happen.

How's the cultural adjustment been for you in Spain? Do you take a daily siesta?
Siesta, yeah it's been an easy adjustment. Training three times and day and having jet lag on top of it, I take my sleep whenever I can get it!