On a first glance, New England Revolution defender Andrew Farrell might look like a typical all-American athlete, strong and gifted, yet there's more to him than that immediate snap judgment. Inside his heart, Farrell carries the red and white of Peru's flag as dear to him as the red, white and blue of the United States' flag.
"I definitely consider myself bicultural," Farrell told ESPN's One Nación in a recent interview. "I feel like my heart is half-American, half-Peruvian."
Farrell's acculturation to Peru wasn't his choice. His adoptive parents were missionaries who took him and his two brothers to the capital city of Lima when Farrell was only 5. The family stayed there a decade before returning to the U.S.
"At the time, I wasn’t too excited about leaving the States," Farrell admitted. But he also stressed that he was eventually happy with the move. "It changed my perspective on a lot of different things. It added to my personality and who I am today."
Farrell guessed that he might not even be a soccer player today if the move hadn't happened, citing examples of players like Odell Beckham Jr., who switched exclusively to American football despite early years of playing soccer.
"I loved soccer when I was in the United States, and when I moved [to Peru], it was like every day," Farrell explained. "I’d be playing in the park until the lights came on and my parents came to call me in. Everybody was playing, everybody was talking soccer, everybody was cheering for the national team. It was never like that in the States, where it was just soccer all the time for the whole country."
Besides developing a lifelong taste for ceviche and lomo saltado, Farrell also detailed how Peru influenced his character.
"Culturally, the two countries are very different," Farrell said. "Everybody there was more laid back, more whatever happens, just deal with it."
That attitude has helped his resiliency in the competitive world of soccer.
"At a pro level, I’ve lost, but I just think, 'You know what, I’ve got to work harder to get this,'" Farrell said.
Most of all, Farrell's bilingualism enables him to feel a bond with every other Spanish speaker, no matter what country they come from. He uses Spanish regularly for inside jokes with some staff and teammates, to make new arrivals feel more comfortable and occasionally to startle those who assume he speaks only English.
"No one thinks that I speak Spanish," Farrell said. "Some of the restaurants I like to go to, I can hear some workers talking in Spanish about me, saying, 'He always comes in here.' They don’t know I can understand them. It’s pretty awesome to surprise people like that."
Perhaps they might be less surprised if they watched Farrell play soccer. Even though he's a defender, he still claims a heritage of South American style.
"It’s just more creative in South American countries, there’s more flow," Farrell said. "That’s something I have a little bit of."
Don't miss the One Nacion TV special on Oct. 12 at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes.