Category Archives: JLBSPORTSTV

An Interview With Ryan Babel

For those who have been following me for a few years now, you could say that this interview has been a long time coming. For those who may be perplexed by my access to former Liverpool starlet and current Ajax Amsterdam player Ryan Babel, a primer: Back when I started following the English Premier League in 2008, Ryan Babel was one of the reasons why I chose to start supporting Liverpool. Out of my mixed ethnicities, Dutch is one of the more prominent makeups. As a promising young Dutchman with loads of pace and skill, Babel and his team at the time, Liverpool, caught my attention. I’ve been a passionate, but highly critical fan of both ever since.

After I started following him, Ryan would endure two more difficult seasons at Liverpool before being sold in January 2011, but through Twitter and YouTube, I remained an ardent supporter of his. I’ve always believed that Ryan was never properly handled at Liverpool—he signed at age 20, was thrown into the first-team, yet never played more than four games in a row for the club. And as he’ll attest to in the interview, he never got the same kind of attention and coaching he did at Ajax. How can a young player develop when their only playing time is 20 minutes as a substitute every other match, and they’re basically on their own development-wise?

Fed up with his lack of first-team minutes in a squad that featured bloody David Ngog at striker during all of Fernando Torres’ injuries, I threw this video out on YouTube demanding for Ryan to play. The success and feedback from that video is what actually propelled my channel to move towards European football and then exclusively Liverpool content. Ryan also appreciated the words of support.

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That was over three years ago, when my hair was much longer and misshapen, and Ryan was still getting in trouble over a few humorous tweets. We’ve kept in contact here and there, and while I was traveling in Amsterdam one weekend, Ryan made himself available for an interview. We sat down for over an hour, reflecting on the good and bad of his Liverpool experience, the regretful transfer he made to a dysfunctional German club with Manchester City-like ambitions, and how at 26 years old, his career is starting to come full circle with a championship-winning season at his boyhood club Ajax.

Thanks to Ryan for accommodating my interview request, and for his honesty and humility about his past. Watch our chat below!

Follow Justin on Twitter @jblock49

Inside Barcelona FC: The Camp Nou Experience

Over my spring break (WHOOOOO, SPRING BREAK FOREVER) I visited Barcelona for a few days. La Sagrada Familia and all of the Gaudi-ness was cool and all, but the highlight of the city for me was Camp Nou. I paid my 23 euro and did a stadium tour, which the club named “THE CAMP NOU EXPERIENCE.” The over/under on how many times I saw “THE CAMP NEW EXPERIENCE” in print around the stadium must’ve been 537. I swear.

Enjoy the tour around Barcelona FC’s legendary ground and current home to the best team/player ever.

Follow Justin on Twitter @jblock49

I also might’ve been the first person ever to buy a Barcelona Basketball Club jersey from the team store.

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The England Takeover Continued: Liverpool at Anfield Match Documentary

I finally made it to Anfield. Finally. After five years of loyalty to Liverpool FC, and over a year of planning, I finally made the trip to my Mecca. I realize, however, that millions of Liverpool fans aren’t as fortunate as I was to see a match at Anfield, so I wanted to put a video together to showcase my time in Merseyside. Thank you to everyone who let me interview them, and to the Reds for a terrific 5-0 win. YNWA.

Thank you to David Russell of Ireland for hooking me up with a ticket to the match.




Follow Justin on Twitter @jblock49

The England Takeover: Arsenal-Liverpool Match Documentary

I’m finally in England. After supporting Liverpool FC and following the EPL for five years now, I’ve traveled to London to “study abroad.” Honestly, the moment I found out I could spend a semester in London and get academic credit for it, I made the trip my goal. Although I’m here to take classes that will enrich my understanding of British culture, above all, I’m here to go to football matches and follow my beloved Liverpool.

That began last Wednesday, as Liverpool traveled to the Emirates for a tough draw with Arsenal on a cold and windy London night. Liverpool were coming off of a disastrous performance against Oldham in an FA Cup draw, but with the proper back four and 4-3-3 shape installed once again, I reckoned that we’d see a better performance from the Reds. A draw was always on the cards, and that’s just how the match ended up. 2-2.

It was disappointing to see Liverpool throw away a 2-0 lead in the second half, but Arsenal deserved those goals, as they out-shot, out-possessed, and terrorized Liverpool with consistent pressing and lightening quick build-up play. I’ll take the point.

Just like I did with the Boston match over the summer, I put together a mini-documentary of this match. I interviewed fans around the ground, got some great shots of the pitch, and ate my first pie! Watch it below. I hope to attend 2-3 more Liverpool matches, so look out for me England! I’m here!

Follow Justin on Twitter @jblock49

Liverpool FC Takes Boston: Tour Documentary+Match Highlights

The whole JLBSportsTV family (the JLBDad, JLBbrother/video editor extraordinaire, and contributor Greg Visone), headed up to Boston to see Liverpool FC take on AS Roma at Fenway Park. It was our first LFC game, and it was a truly magical experience. For a history-rich club like LFC, it was only fitting that they play at America’s most beloved ballpark (I say this begrudgingly, as I’m a die-hard Yankees fan. It’s a shame that the new Yankee Stadium has priced-out fans like me). Shout-out to subscriber Joe from Newark, NJ who recognized me, Maria for finding us, and all the wonderful fans I interviewed and met. You are all beautiful, and we’re one big LFC family. Enjoy some pictures taken by Maria, and our mini-documentary of the spectacle. We interviewed fans from Liverpool, Ireland, India, China, Canada, Uganda, and all over the US. LFC is truly an international club. We also have some great match footage—I hope our video puts you right in the Boston Kop. YNWA.

Thank you to my little brother Adam for filming and editing everything. He worked very hard on this!

The Shankly Gates… In Boston?
The Boston Kop!

Follow Justin on Twitter @jblock49

Liverpool In For American Striker Clint Dempsey?

It hasn’t been officially announced yet, but every indication (websites are accidentally leaking links to purchase his jersey, accidentally ran a story on the signing; etc) is telling us that he’s signed. Liverpool is probably waiting to unveil Dempsey in conjunction with the start of their US Tour this weekend. A shrewd piece of marketing there. Having his shirts available at the Liverpool-Roma game in Boston will be a big merchandising move for the American striker, and Liverpool. I’ll be at that game, and if Dempsey shirts aren’t available, then I’m gonna flip a shit.

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Your thoughts on the signing?

Follow Justin on Twitter @jblock49

Why Joe Cole and Alberto Aquilani Must Leave Liverpool This Summer

The reasons are pretty clear. I’m not rooting against them if they do stay at LFC—I hope they can make a strong impact in the starting XI rotation. I’m just saying that it’s improbable given their history, so I want them out because their wages are too high. Fully explained in the video.

EDITORS NOTE: I say that Aquilani didn’t play much for AC Milan last season due to injury. I was incorrect. He didn’t play because a clause in his contract limited his appearances. Regardless, my point about him being injury-prone still holds true.

I actually advocated for Aquilani’s departure last summer using the same reasons. Has he done anything on the field to counteract my argument? NO! Video from the summer of 2011:

Follow Justin on Twitter @jblock49