The CultureMap Interview

Dynamo star discovers Houston shopping, monster trucks & BBQ — and dishes on teammates

Dynamo star discovers Houston shopping, monster trucks and BBQ

Houston Dynamo soccer Giles Barnes April 2015
Giles Barnes gets ready to make a move. Photo courtesy of Houston Dynamo
the class room
Among Barnes' favorite stores in The Class Room. Paolo Sagullo / The Class Room
Ford F250 with lift kit
Monster trucks, like this Ford 250, were a surprise to Barnes. morr-ink.com
The Republic Smokehouse & Saloon barbecue sausage chicken
Bqrnes has learned to love Texas barbecue. Photo by Eric Sandler
Houston Dynamo soccer Giles Barnes April 2015
Giles Barnes and Dynamo teammate celebrate. Photo by Nigel Brooks
Houston Dynamo soccer Giles Barnes April 2015
Giles Barnes in action. Photo by Nigel Brooks
Houston Dynamo soccer Giles Barnes April 2015
Giles Barnes, right. Photo courtesy of Houston Dynamo
Ronaldo Luís Nazário, May 2015
As a youngster, Barnes idolized soccer great Ronaldo Luís Nazário. Real Madrid CF
Houston Dynamo soccer Giles Barnes April 2015
the class room
Ford F250 with lift kit
The Republic Smokehouse & Saloon barbecue sausage chicken
Houston Dynamo soccer Giles Barnes April 2015
Houston Dynamo soccer Giles Barnes April 2015
Houston Dynamo soccer Giles Barnes April 2015
Ronaldo Luís Nazário, May 2015

If you haven’t heard the name Giles Barnes floating around Houston by now, clearly you don’t follow soccer. Or football, as he’s quick to correct me. Not futbol.

“I call it football – futbol as some say is more of a Latino/South American thing – in England we call it football,” he says.

A fast and explosive forward/attacking midfielder with English Premier League (EPL) experience, Barnes was the leading scorer for the Dynamo in 2013 and 2014 and capped his best season last year snagging four club awards including Most Valuable Player. The Jamaican native has been playing since he was 7, and now his third season with the Dynamo which he says, “hopefully the best one yet.”

Now that you know he’s incredibly awesome at football (NOT SOCCER), there are some other things worth noting about #10. For starters, he’s from London, so his accent is glorious.  

CultureMap: Are there Texas stereotypes?

Giles Barnes: I’m still not going to get over the big trucks — I thought monster trucks were a sport, not for driving, however I’m a big fan. And Texas BBQ — I always heard people talking about it, but until you try it, you’ll never understand.

CultureMap: How are the fans in Houston?

GB: One of the best sets of fans I’ve played in front of — their energy and enthusiasm and the way they care about our team is second to none. 

CM: Favorite thing in Houston?

GB: It has to be shopping. One of my favorite places is The Class Room in Rice Village. Also the Galleria is a cool spot to hang out!

CM: Tell me something about one of your teammates.

GB: Rico Clark  — you can literally tell him anything and he’ll forget it in 10 seconds flat – he’s a great guy and a big friend of mine. And JJ (Jason Johnson) can play any musical instrument he picks up — he’s a very talented guy.

CM: A lot of Houston folks don't "get" soccer as much as they understand football and JJ Watt – help us out.

GB: Firstly it's called football (sorry guys) but it is. And the stadium downtown is easily accessible. If you ever see any of the players, we’re always approachable and willing to talk about football. We’re always promoting the growth of the sport. Get yourself down to BBVA Compass Stadium — it’s the best in the league in my opinion — once you’ve been you’ll want to come back.

CM: Athlete you most look up to?

GB: Ronaldo - the original R9. He was my hero growing up and will forever be the greatest futboler. Even after his injuries and accomplishing everything, his desire to play until his knees couldn’t take it anymore — it was amazing. I even shaved my head trying to be more like him as a kid!

CM: What's your style of play? 

GB: I’m a hard worker with some flair and am pretty quick. I like to play off the cuff and let my imagination take over. I also like to entertain people and try to score goals.

CM: If you could take a trip anywhere, where would you go?

GB: Jamaica — for me it’s paradise. Always nice to get back to my roots.

Barnes is one of the most down to earth and genuine athletes around. He even talks in emoticons – seriously, follow him on Twitter: @GilesBarnesReal & Instagram: @gilesb_10