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Christian Pulisic on Life in Italy, AC Milan’s New Uniforms, and Missing American Candy

Photographs courtesy of AC Milan; Collage: Gabe Conte

Living abroad can be a daunting and disorienting experience for many. But for American soccer sensation Christian Pulisic—who moved to Germany to play for Borussia Dortmund before he was even old enough to drive, and is now enjoying his first season in Italy with AC Milan—is used to it. “I think they respect me here,” Pulisic said in a recent interview with GQ, calling in from Milan. “I’ve enjoyed getting to know this league and playing here. I think in general, in Europe, the perception of Americans has come a long way from where I started. Which, it’s crazy to say, was almost ten years ago.”

The 25-year-old Pulisic—who recently won his fourth U.S. Soccer Male Player of the Year award, tying him with Landon Donovan for most ever—has already racked up six goals and five assists in his first 21 games with his new club. And today, his squad happens to be unveiling a new uniform. AC Milan’s fourth kit, designed in collaboration with Puma and the LA streetwear brand Pleasures, will hit the field for the first time for the team’s February 11 showdown with Napoli. When asked, from his perspective, what makes for a cool soccer jersey, Pulisic had an answer that indicated years of thought put into this topic. “There’s different kinds,” he began. “Some are a bit more flashy and you’re like, ‘Wow, that really stands out. That looks really cool.’ Crazy colors and stuff like that. There’s also the simple ones that are just super clean, maybe a plain white kit. I think they’ve captured more of that side with these new ones. Clean look, but also sleek design, that’s what I’ve noticed the most.”

Photo courtesy of AC Milan
Photo courtesy of AC Milan
Photo courtesy of AC Milan
Photo courtesy of AC Milan

Milan’s new threads were inspired by the city’s gothic architecture and come in two distinct colorways. There’s a black one and a white one (pictured above), each with the type of funky collar that we love to see. The black ones will see the pitch first, against Napoli, while the white ones will get their time in the spotlight on February 18 against Monza. Pulisic, showing visible excitement when asked about playing in them, cannot seem to wait. “These jerseys are actually really nice! It’s a cool look,” he said. “I think it’s going to look really good. I do get excited for a cool jersey. I’ll definitely keep them.”

Like many American children, Pulisic was a jersey collector in his youth. “I was a big jersey guy,” he said. “I’ve had so many different ones. I wore my Wayne Rooney kit so much. That was one of my favorite ones.” Despite living in one of the world’s premiere fashion cities now, Pulisic admits he’s yet to fully take advantage of all the retail therapy Milan has to offer. “I’m not a big shopping guy, to be honest, but there are definitely some nice places to go here,” he laughs. “It’s a great city for that.”

When he signed with AC Milan over the summer, Pulisic not only agreed to a contract with a pillar of world football, he also signed up for life in his third different European country. (After leaving Dortmund, he spent four years playing for Chelsea and living in London.) Now a few months into the Milanese groove, he’s taken note of a few things. “It’s much more relaxed than London, slightly friendlier than Germany,” he offers. “They’ve been super welcoming. I’m enjoying it a lot. The support, I mean you can just feel the energy and the passion from everyone in the stadium. It’s a special stadium, for sure. I’ve been in some good atmospheres in Europe, but this is definitely the best.” As for his mastery of the Italian language? “I’m doing my best, taking lessons. I can understand everything the coaches are saying!”

The transition from London to Milan was also made easier by some immediate success on the pitch. Pulisic netted a goal in each of his first two games with Milan, including this absolute screamer during his debut. “It’s not something that’s going to happen—scoring, that is—every time you debut [with a new club]. It obviously helps a lot and gives you a lot of confidence,” Pulisic concedes. “But there have been times where I’ve gone places and my first game was extremely difficult. It’s about patience and trusting that the work that you put in will pay off. No one’s going to score every single game. Sometimes it takes a bit, sometimes it happens right away. That’s just life!”

Having some Americans as part of the club’s ownership group cushioned his landing, too. “They helped me a ton during the whole transition,” Pulisic said. “The signing, welcoming me to the club, they were fantastic.” (He’s never met Drake, who is also a passive investor.) But every now and then a guy just yearns for his childhood comforts. Asked what things he finds himself pining for the most while 4,000 miles from home, Pulisic pointed to the candy aisle.

“American snacks and candies, normal stuff. I’ve gotten pretty accustomed to the European lifestyle, but I don’t know about Italian candy. You can’t argue about the food! Candy and sweets, though, I think they’re a little bit behind.”

Pulisic should know, having grown up in literally Hershey, Pennsylvania. If it’s any consolation, the fourth kits cooked up by his new club are sweet enough to satiate his cravings. “If you asked my teammates, I think about five of them would even know what Hershey’s is,” Pulisic smiles. “But, I guess I did grow up in the sweetest place on Earth!”

Originally Appeared on GQ