When my friend Armando Espinal told me about a true “familia Valencianista” outside Valencia, but also in the slightly patriotic USA, I had to interview the man behind: Julio Silva.
Julio lives in the American “wild west”, Texas, with his wife and three kids who are all Valencianistas: One of the kids is named after an ex-player, and Julio even managed to convert his nephew, a Barça fan, into a Valencia fan!
Questioner: Hello Julio. Thanks for your time. I really want to know about your family but let’s start off with some questions about your Valencianismo sentiment.
Answerer: Hello and thank you for having me.
Q: When & how did you become a Valencianista?
A: My wife and I have a friend, Alberto Artagoitia, who is like family to us that we met back in high school when he was a foreign exchange student from Valencia. Years later, our friendship grew to the point to where he and his wife, Vicen, invited us to Spain. It was in the summer of 1999 that Alberto took us to Barcelona to watch the second leg of the Spanish Supercopa, featuring Valencia vs. Barcelona, in the Nou Camp. Valencia had won the first game at home and had an advantage going into the second game. The game we experienced ended in a 3-3 tie with Valencia lifting the Supercopa trohpy! It was at that game, that I became a Valencianista.
Q: Promising start as a Valencianista indeed, and I remember that game. What is your best memory as a fan?
A: The Spanish Supercopa of 1999. We beat a strong Barcelona team that featured Luis Figo, Patrick Kluivert, and Pep Guardiola. El Piojo, Kily Gonzales, Medieta, Canizares, among others showed them the strength and class of Valencia! To be there was amazing.
Q: Those were the days, but what about now: Your thoughts on Peter Lim’s project?
A: I am enjoying it so far. I was both excited and apprehensive about a billionaire buying the team, much like the possible transformation of a team like Manchester City. On the good side, I was hoping to continue the construction of our new stadium, pay off debts, and most importantly, work on keeping our good players at Valencia. On the bad side, I don’t want to be so rich that we buy a team of great players like Barcelona and Real Madrid. One of the greatest reasons I love our club is because we develop good players into great ones. I don’t want that to ever change.
Q: Hard to disagree, for me. Fans should always be critical. Let’s move on to your family. Please tell us a bit about your family members?
A: My wife Lucy and I have 5 year old triplets! They are Julian, Sofia, and Joaquin. As you can see from the picture, the boys enjoy playing soccer, especially getting to wear their Valencia kits. My daughter Sofia doesn’t enjoy sports so much, but does enjoy going to games from time to time. As you can see, whenever any team from the club comes to Texas, we will always be there.
Q: Woah, triplets! I wonder if Joaquín is named after you-know-who?
A: Yes, of course!
Q: Respect! The photo shows your family with VCF kits. How is it to be a ”Familia Valencianista” abroad – and especially in the somehow patriotic U.S.?
A: I think it is very unique to follow Valencia in the United States because most soccer fans follow the big clubs of Europe and Mexico. We don’t really get to see many Valencia fans in the U.S. in person. Most of our interaction with other Valencianistas is on the internet. The U.S. soccer fan base is slowly getting larger and larger every year. It is going in a positive direction with the involvement of the MLS league here.
Q: Good news. “Soccer” has a huge potential in the U.S., although my country (Denmark) just beat you guys in a friendly game… Do you think it is important for a family to share passions outside home territory?
A: Yes, I think it is good for everyone to experience the world, and not just your home area or home country. To experience other cultures is a beautiful experience.
Q: Yes, impossible to replace such experiences. Who is your and your wife’s favorite Valencianista of all time?
A: Well, as for my wife, she is a fan of Valencia as a team, as she is right by my side in all of the events. However, she doesn’t get too involved in getting to know the players and such. As for me, I have so many that I like. If I had to choose one, it would be Gaizka Mendieta. His leadership on both the Valencia and Spanish national teams was very important during those years. He was such a dependable player both off and off the pitch for the club.
Q: Gaizka is a favorite here too. We all remember his famous volley goal vs Barça. What about now, who is your favorite among our current players?
A: Currently, I like Mustafi. I see his skills and leadership developing game by game.
Q: True, youngest World Cup winner last year too. Very talented but yet mature. I see only your boys on the photo. Does your little girl fancy football and more importantly VCF?
A: Well, my daughter tried playing soccer very much but she doesn’t like to sweat. Crazy. She is just a little girl.
Q: Yeah, I guess the Texan warmth takes its toll. What are the most important things to remember when raising kids as “Valencianistas”?
A: I feel that knowing the history and values of the club is very important. Like I said, I enjoy the fact that we are not like Barcelona in the fact that we buy star players. To develop your own talent is something to be very proud of and our club does that better than any club in the world.
Q: Sympathetic values in modern football indeed. What do you think about Valencia city? Have your kids seen it, or will you go there one day?
A: I love the city of Valencia. First and foremost, because of our friends there are like family. My wife and I have been there twice. In August of this year, we will be taking our children to Valencia for the first time. It will be memorable. The boys will enjoy the Mestalla!
Q: Nice, good for them. Give Españeta a hug from me! I hear from Armando (the founder of Penya EEUU) that your family is quite active with the American penya. What kind of work do you guys do?
A: I had the pleasure of meeting Armando at a Valencia vs. Houston Dynamo game back in 2010. As I mentioned before, most of our interaction is over social media on the internet because our group is spread throughout all of the U.S. We are still trying to get together in the New York area in the near future.
Q: So your family does go to common Penya events, even though it must be difficult for a family from the Southern states?
A: Yes, that is difficult. New York is more than 1500 miles from Dallas, which is almost 2500 kilometers away. We still have hopes to do it someday.
Q: Sure, it is all good! Your family went to see Baraja’s Juvenil-A team in the Dallas Cup a few weeks ago. How was that experience, and what do you think of our future stars (such as Fran Villalba)?
A: Amazing. My entire family enjoyed it. I brought my nephew who is a Barça fan. He enjoyed it so much, that he also became a Valencia fan! It was a great pleasure to also meet Ruben Baraja. Fran (Villalba) will be great someday. I always enjoy seeing our youth players move up to the first team. You just don’t see that enough in the great clubs these days.
Q: Haha, great preaching but I can see it from your nephew’s point of view. Last question, anything you would like to say or share with the international VCF society?
A: I would like to say hello to all of the Valencianistas around the world. It is through soccer and, in this case Valencia, that we make friends from all parts of the world. I hope to meet some of you in August when I visit the Mestalla. I’m proud to be a member of our Penya here in the U.S. And most of all: AMUNT VALENCIA!!
Q: AMUNT! I will spread the word. Thank you so much for the time Julio, and thanks to Armando for setting this up. We, in Penya CheScandinavia, would like to thank the American penya for an amazing job, and we are really looking forward to more collaboration with our American friends.
Personally, I want to thank also Armando Espinal who is trying to connect Valencianistas from all over the World – our latest addition is Peter Lim’s compatriot David from Singapore.