FIFA 08: Q&A With Jozy Altidore

We chat about video games, nicknames, and David Beckham with the cover star of EA Sports' upcoming FIFA 08.

Jozy Altidore has packed a lot into his 17 years. The striker, currently playing in the MLS for the Red Bull New York, was the 17th overall pick in the 2006 MLS draft and made his professional soccer debut in August 2006--while still age 16--and even managed to score a goal in the Red Bulls' loss to D.C. United in last year's Eastern Conference playoffs. With that goal, Altidore, who's known by nicknames "Oatmeal" and "Juice" among teammates, became the youngest player in MLS history to score a playoff goal. Now Altidore can add one more impressive achievement to his resume: EA Sports cover star. Altidore was recently named the cover athlete of the upcoming FIFA 08, making him one of the youngest professional athletes to ever earn that distinction. During a recent phone interview with Altidore, we got his thoughts on video games, the sport of soccer, how David Beckham would change the MLS, and just how he got the nickname "Oatmeal."

GameSpot: I want to start with your name. Where did it come from? That's an unusual name.

Jozy Altidore: Which one? Are you talking about my nickname or my actual name?

Altidore's already starred in an Adidas commercial and now he's on the cover of a game. Not bad for a 17-year-old.

GS: Well I want to get to your nickname, but I want to start with "Jozy" first.

JA: Well actually it was a coach of mine at the Academy down in Bradenton [Florida], the [soccer] residency program. He couldn't say my whole name and so every day he thought of nicknames to give me and finally he gave me one, Jozy, and he's like, "That's a cool one, right?" And I was like, "Sure. That'll do fine." And ever since that's been my nickname.

GS: Your real name is Josmer. Am I pronouncing that right?

JA: It is Josmer [pronounced ZHOES-MAIR].

GS: OK. So Jozy is not too far off. But that's a little bit easier to say.

JA: Yeah, exactly.

GS: And then you mentioned your nicknames. I saw two of them on your bio. One is "Oatmeal" and one is "Juice." Where did those come from?

JA: Teammates of mine in the program... They originated that name. They started it up and it's ever since stuck with me.

GS: What is the significance of "Oatmeal"?

JA: I honestly can't tell you. I don't know where they got it from. But it stuck with me ever since.

GS: Oatmeal. OK. Well everybody's got unusual nicknames, I guess. So you've played FIFA 08. Give us your thoughts on what you did in the game and what you thought.

JA: I mean, the game [is] great. The realism is spectacular. I think that that's an obvious step up. I think the game and the skills that they've put in--it's unbelievable because you can now do moves, you know...like step over, that you would do in the real game. It just makes the game that much more fun to play. As well as the new Be a Pro [mode], it's a new version of the game [where] you...play as a character in the game and you do as what they would do on the field and it's great. You know, you get certain camera zooms when you're going in towards the goal. And it's really just something that's going to make gamers go crazy because it's going to be a lot of fun. It's going to be big hit definitely.

GS: I don't know how familiar you are with other EA games. But the idea of playing one position [as in Be a Pro mode] is something they've done in football games, in American football games, in the past. How do you feel about playing the position when you don't have the ball? Is the game still fun for you if you don't have the ball?

JA: Well it's really a true footballer's mode or a true footballer fan's mode to really move without the ball and try to find the right spots to gain the advantage. So I think it's going to be very challenging, which is what I think gamers want. They probably found that the past seasons have been too easy. But in this mode I think it's going to be very challenging and then we're going to see who the real gamers are.

GS: Right. How do you go about playing soccer games? Do you jack up the difficulty right away?

JA: Yeah, I usually do because I've been playing since I was--I've been playing those games since I was young so I already know how to play and with the buttons and all that stuff, so yeah.

GS: What do you look for in a game like this that makes it feel authentic for you, that says, "This is what it feels like to be out there on the pitch and playing?" What type of things come through in the gameplay that say, "This is authentic to me?"

JA: Well just the obvious things, like the graphics. In the FIFA 08 game they are definitely a step up. And it's very real and it feels like you're in the game actually. The fans, the roar of the stadiums, you know, the authentic look of the goals and the grass and just the little things like that make the game that much better to own and to play.

GS: What was it like playing as yourself in the game for the first time?

JA: It was a crazy experience because now, you know, it's not like, "Look what I just did." It's, "Look what Jozy just did." It's a lot of fun and it's great.

GS: How is your guy? How is your character?

JA: Oh, he's actually like me. He's aggressive. He's fast. He's got a very powerful side and he's very energetic and it's very spot-on to how I am as a player.

GS: I guess it depends on who's playing you as well.

JA: Exactly. Yeah, exactly.

GS: Have you had a chance to look at your stats at all?

JA: No, I haven't. I didn't look at the stats.

GS: It must be something to be your age, obviously a really young guy, and on the cover of a video game.

With three goals and four assists in 2007, Jozy has helped his Red Bull New York team to an 8-7-3 record this season.

JA: Oh, it's an unbelievable feeling and I'm very thankful to be part of something like this. I mean, EA has put a belief in me and I thank them for that, for giving me the opportunity to cover one of their games. I'm very excited.

GS: If five years ago or eight years ago, someone would have told you that you would have been on the cover, what would you have told them?

JA: I would have told them, "Hey, that's a funny little dream there. I would like to have that dream come true." So it's really--it's been a roller coaster like I said before and I'm just very grateful at this point.

GS: So this is your first year in the MLS, correct?

JA: Yeah.

GS: How has your season been going so far?

JA: Well it's been well, you know. So far it's been a little tough, you know, coming back because of being away for a month with the [2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup]. But coming back it's good to come back, get a couple games under my belt again, and to see the guys. But you know, I'm finally back to where I need to be physically and mentally and with my teammates as well. So the season it's been a good one. We've had our rough patches as a team but every good team has that. So we're just going to look to build for the next game.

GS: Who on your team is your toughest competition when it comes to video games?

JA: Oh, there is no competition.

GS: There is none.

JA: No competition when it comes to video games.

GS: What do you like to play? Do you play things other than sports games?

JA: Halo is a good game. Another good one, let's see, actually Def Jam [Icon], that one there is not a bad game.

GS: You guys have some games with the LA Galaxy coming up and I just want to get your thoughts on David Beckham and the MLS and if you expect to play him. We're not sure if he's actually going to be back by the time you guys see them the next time.

JA: It's very exciting...for the fans and us as well. And if he plays it's going to just be a great night, I'm sure, and it's going to be beneficial, not only for us but for him as well.

GS: Any tips for someone who's looking to get better at FIFA 08?

JA: Well you have to be quick, you know, with the button tapping. And the video game is, soccer games I think, if you move the ball quickly, I think you'll be very successful. You'll find a lot of open seams and a lot of shots and the shots are the key, rebounds and stuff like that is the key to winning.

GS: And it couldn't hurt to get the ball to Jozy, right?

JA: Yeah, it couldn't hurt to find that guy.

GS: Thanks for your time.

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124 comments
drsmoo
drsmoo

To the Brazilian who thinks he's better. Altidore scored two goals against your U-20 national team.

JoeTheFunk
JoeTheFunk

Goku... it's FOOTBALL .Thats the name given to it by the inventors of the game... you fanny

AJ-2K7
AJ-2K7

is it possible to get Be A Pro online in the English version? i think its crap that you cant play it online with it cos its quite a good idea. i can only get the offline training though.

AJ-2K7
AJ-2K7

i just got this today n it is definitely THE BEST FIFA EVER!!!! i bet its way better than the next PES!

adam16f
adam16f

Goku, i hate to break it to you, but its called football in England (the guy is probably British, thats why he called them Yanks). Its called futbol in Spanish speaking countries (and you are obviously Spanish seeing that you cursed off hmsa in Spanish). Glad I could clear that up.

Goku2639
Goku2639

hmsa-------um..its called FUTBOL. do sum research them if you havent heard of him. pendejo.........

Goku2639
Goku2639

mugato----------shutup. its soccer and or futbol.

shamsara
shamsara

the pro evolution soccer very very very more realistic than fifa.

shamsara
shamsara

the pro evolution soccer very very very more realistic than fifa.

dominator3333
dominator3333

this game: sux(i got it... yesterday,graphics 4/10 gamplay4/10 sound(7/10) game sucks,dont buy it It is same like demo....

mugato55
mugato55

its football ok football not kick ball not head ball not soccer its football OK for any yanks that might be reading

vass86
vass86

i love hearing americans talk about football because you make it sound like basketball or something. i don't mean any offense it's just that it seems that us english have a different outlook on sports. probably less stat based

d4rklord86
d4rklord86

Ok heres the thing, EA sports is so obsessed with acquiring and maintaining their licenses and franchise rights that the only thing they have made a priority besides that, is their graphics, and even so, their textures are simply disgusting, the face-body appearance still looks like the monkey-like guys from fifa 98 only that the new ones have more wrinkles in their shirts and prettier shoes, oh and don't forget that PLASTIC, SHINY look these players have, FYI: if these programmers and designers were a little smarter they would know that player's skin textures should be placed apart from their uniform's texture. I can only save FIFA 08 from being thrown in the trash is the promise of a much better AI (which literally sucked in every FIFA there was), and better in-game physics. And as far as comparing the 2 games, FIFA, and Winning Eleven, just put it this way: If you want to just play an arcade game, lots of eye candy, and straight forward gameplay that lets you score in every way, and feel the champion of champions with no effort, then FIFA is the game for you. OR, if you want to play a realistic Football game, with lots of stats, realistic player development and strategies, and work your team up from bottom to top ranks, with unmatched gameplay, and physics (all, interaction, player design and movements, and ball physics) but a little cut out on the eye candy side, then Winning eleven is the game for you.

BrUnOdeFeNiX
BrUnOdeFeNiX

Cool!! I'm 18 year-old, but i think that I'm better than him... I'm a Brazilian and in here is more difficult to continue in soccer...If you've good contacts is easier...Maybe in USA I'm a PRO. Good game, maybe in this year I'll buy FIFA. But who is Ronaldinho?!KAKA?Ronaldo?!Messi?!Cristiano Ronaldo?! Ok!

majestikk
majestikk

I'm hoping the "Be a Pro" mode, that you're able to play as a Goalkeeper. I think that would be fun. In past games you never had complete control of the keeper.

BrazilianThing
BrazilianThing

Fifa gameplay is too fast and very straight foward like the Premier league, PES is more relaxed with more freedom, ball movements and more realistic abilities to dribble like the Brazilian league. However, Fifa has more options for single game play, more choices for entertainment and a bomb a s s management mode, PES on the other hand, gets kind of boring if you dont have anybody else to play with...thats why they are both cool, if you are a REAL futebol/football/soccer fan, BUY THEM BOTH and stop offending the sport's games!!!!!! Vai Brasil! treis a zero na Argentina!!!!! woooohoooooooo!

John1059
John1059

so they dont put the player of the year, ronaldo, on the cover???...ronaldo played much better last season for man u than ronaldinho did for barca....as for the england team...Joe Cole is easily our best player AT THE MOMENT....it depends on when gerrard gets back and how well they do in the qualifiers, however in the world cup and recently...Joe Cole is easily the best player for england...he's the only one with any spirit and liveliness, he works hard, is quick on his feet and has a hunger for the ball...the others...especially in their last game...I could of fallen a sleep they were so dozy and lifeless..with the exception of richards and wright-phillips...also another 2 great for england.

HMSA
HMSA

I need to say 2 things: 1) The correct name is Football( or Futebol in portuguese), not soccer! 2) Never heard about this Jozy Altidore, be sure that in south america will be a different guy(Kaka i think)). This Jozy is only for north america.

Mikey_PJ
Mikey_PJ

Can't wait for FIFA 08, because FIFA 07 doesn't update squads anymore, and I wanna see what new features EA will throw in this time!

zingerhot
zingerhot

i think david beckham suites the cover . jozy doesnt siuts it . r u with me . look at hte fact beckham tottaly holds england team

mishkawy
mishkawy

I think it would be better if they put the best player in every content on the cover.. what do you guys think?

PrebuiltKiller
PrebuiltKiller

Barca is not loaded they suck first of all and they should put Guti or one of the players from RealMadrid and please not Ronaldinho anymore so Mr. jbwise01 and RealMadrid can beat Liverpool,and the Milans anyday of the week.

klinsi
klinsi

@jbwise 01 Errr.. feel so sorry Bro cuz I agree with u too that PES series always bad even compared the FIFA series cuz I believe Konami always more concerned with their WINNING ELEVEN series that true to its name, winning over FIFA series in more recent years, cuz its truly the best soccer game ever made in terms of GAMEPLAY & TEAM MANAGEMENT plus PLAYER SKILLS where FIFA only get major advantages using their almost unlimited bugdet to pay over licences & franchise Yeah, so to make it simple, if u want to see & play a licensed franchise, play FIFA but if u want to feel the truly atmosphere & the truly soccer world with actuall, play WE series (unfortunately only available in Japanese) but its truly ROCKS !! Cuz in WE series, u will feel that playing football using Ronaldinho than using Jozy is FAR MORE DIFFERENT compared to FIFA when u play as Kaka doesn't feel any differentiation when u play as Karimi ! FIFA lacks of good AI too, especially for GK (apparently the GK in FIFA series can only caught the ball by using their feet not hand & they all get brain damaged & super losy nerves too cuz apparently they can even do simple move like just move forward to close the shooter shooting room, bah...) FIFA lack of good commentation too (despite in FIFA series, a hardcore gamer can even scored more than 10 goals in WC difiicultiy, its very pathetic to know that even the commentator CAN'T say the last score cuz its more than 6 goals ! bah... PATHETIC compared to WE series) Plus the editing mode in FIFA are too restricted & very limited compared to WE series, even compared to PES, FIFA series edit mode are NOTHING ! In FIFA series, there are more less distinct abilty between one club with others too, any other clubs that had many star player will always get the best rating despite maybe they only had the best player in forward or MF only, bah... so they all had the best rating so what the different between Madrid & MU ? nothing in FIFA cuz they will had the best rating ! Its truly different cuz in WE series its will get more many rating compared to very limited rating system in FIFA The graphic display is not too different too While FIFA serie is better in atmosphere presentation, WE series got better in player model & face reaction graphical presentation The player in FIFA are better mapping overally but they looks like a emotionless 3D bot when in WE they are more robust mapped but had facial reaction & can do simple emotional move So I hope someday there is a game that COMBINE & TWEAK the WE gameplay, depth skill players & edit mode with FIFA best licensed & franchise & mode with ENGLISH languange ! Always Bayern Munich forever & ever (despite they are so too weak in FIFA & WE, bah...) !

jbwise01
jbwise01

Prebuiltkiller: Obviously the cover with Jozy Alitdore is meant for FIFA 08 in the Americas...if you did some research u might find that FIFA has different covers for for different regions... like Wayne Rooney in Euro region ;-) Barca is loaded yea...as is Bayern Munich, Liverpool, and both Milan's, oh yea and plenty of other good clubs that made no changes..which i anticipate having a higher team chemistry PS. Pro Evo sucks...it has no touch, an arcade feel and its graphics are just cartoony...FIFA is far superior in every aspect of gameplay.

atlas400
atlas400

FC Barcelona da best . henry eto ronaldinho messi dos santos daim!

Snake12511
Snake12511

MLS is a bad league, Liverpool FC is the best

PSPgamer592
PSPgamer592

MLS isn't doing so hot lately. FC Barcelona is #1!

Dwaaskie
Dwaaskie

Sparta Rotterdam!!!!! best football team ever!!!!!

atlas400
atlas400

MLS still sucks and its football or futbol not soccer

PrebuiltKiller
PrebuiltKiller

This guy sucks he is playing for the MLS WOW big deal now if he was playing for a team in Europe then he can be on the cover.But i think that Raul from RealMadrid should be on the cover he is the captain for me the best team in Europe.

AMB1402
AMB1402

hmm, i realy don't mind the MlS or the saudi arabia league if the game play didn't change, it will be a big fall like always. And i think that the fifa 08 will be the last soccer game in the ps2 so EA can take the advantage of this, can they?

Le-Beave
Le-Beave

Wow... i'm 17 too... wish i was that guy!

boobush
boobush

Beckham is in it for the money. Ho.

iboo01
iboo01

LOL yh man Hasaad is right

Hasaad
Hasaad

Why the hell are you guys discussing actual football when this preview is of Fifa 08?

chechak7
chechak7

lets see new fifa i think it will be good by new engine MLS have a big commercial player is David Beckham best free kick player

Mynx_15
Mynx_15

Except Beckham.......

Mynx_15
Mynx_15

MLS is a nice league with many good players,but they dream is came to Europe......

kairnz
kairnz

Er... didn't fit in? He won many golden boots at Arsenal. There was no lack of goals from him. He didn't have to fit in anyway. The team was built around him at that time. Too bad he's gone. Just hoping Arsenal bangs in more goals this season without Henry.

cliff122316
cliff122316

mimsoo come on adebayor? yeah he will be the next Kanu any day now. he is not it. its all about van persie, an excellent all around player, and eduardo. lets be honest henry didnt really fit into the arsenal system. we play around a lot and end up crossing balls in from wide. henry doesnt like to head balls he is just so good that obviously he scored anyway. eduardo will be a much better fit because he is a better player in the air. just wait he will get on the end of plenty of balls sent in by eboue and sagnol streaking up the wings (damn fast attacking minded fullbacks there eh?). he fits prefectly with those two. i think our offense will be better this year than the last couple since henry wasnt as dominating anymore anyway. my worry is the central defensive midfield. gilberto is old and out for a while and as much as i love fabregas he cant stop the midfields of the big four with anyone but an in form gilberto

Staticbb
Staticbb

hrm...time for a mash-up reply "Thierry Henry is washed up" -- Are you serious? "Beckham is washed up" --Are you serious? Quietus..go out peacefully. Seriously, the man has been in form the months leading into arival into LA. He went for the moneys...and the US lifestyle. Possibly the chance to retire quietly, but he definately has the chops to continue starting international play and big Euro football. "MLS is garbage" --Yes....yes it is. "Why Joey A as the cover guy" --They need a continental Icon.....i woulda went with clint dempsy, but the man is insanely ugly. Maybe Tweilman? Convey? Donovan (gag)? Brian Ching? De Rosario? "MLS All stars did beat Chelsea" -- Chelsea was exausted comming from a long line of pre season games ONTOP of serious international play for nearly the whole starting 11 and many bench players. I don't like the whole "it was all stars vs. chelsea" card tho. Chelsea is esentially a band of worldwide all stars.

Prtofdacrowd
Prtofdacrowd

Oh great another football game thats gonna be as _______ as the last ones

hfgfh
hfgfh

barca.... all day henry is going to make a big change

snake2075
snake2075

wow thats cool. francisco guillermo ochoa is on the cover. if you guys dont know, he is the mexican goalie and play in a team called america