Interview: Houston Dash’s Brianna Visalli

Californian, Brianna Visalli, is a firm favourite among fans of West Ham United and Birmingham City. Just before the news broke that Brianna was leaving Birmingham to move to Houston Dash I was able to catch up with her and find out a little bit more about her early days in football and her pre-match rituals.

Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am originally from San Jose, California; which has now transformed into the heart of the Silicon Valley. My entire career, I have played center-attacking midfield and have made some appearances as winger for Birmingham as well. The club that I have closet-supported is Chelsea. Super f*cking Frank Lampard! lol.

Who is the sports icon that has influenced you the most?
This is tough because I actually can’t say with honesty that a particular athlete has influenced me, but one player that I am still amazed by is Messi and it was a long-term goal to see him play live. Also growing up I was able to see Marta play at a young age and I was incredibly impressed with the way that she played and still currently plays. With that being said, as I get older and read more about other athletes and their journey, I have begun to fangirl Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, Rio Ferdinand and Sadio Mane. A very wide and diverse group of individuals.

While you were studying and playing at Pepperdine you set the record for the number of games played for an outfielder. While I don’t know if this has been beaten since that must have felt great?
Yes, I honestly didn’t know that was a thing until my senior season and we had the end of the year awards. It was an honor to play for the program and do so alongside getting my economics degree. Yes, I was the first player in program history to receive the Player of the Year award, which was a huge honor to serve a program that has made me the woman that I am today. I was also an All-American and an Academic All-American in addition to a MAC Herman Trophy Semi-Finalist, which again was another huge honor.

Photos: Joe Toth and @BriVisalli

You also picked up the West Coast Conference Player of the Year trophy, how did that feel and where have you put it?
Following my collegiate career, I was then drafted to the Chicago Red Stars and consequentially played for the reserves while working a couple of jobs before I got my British citizenship and came to England to play for West Ham in their first season in the WSL. I also had the honor of representing my home country of USA at the 2018 U23 Nordic Cup tournament. In spring 2019, I then represented West Ham in the Wembley FA Cup Final. I have been tremendously fortunate to have had the experiences that I have had so far and it only makes me more hungry to achieve more and be the best that I can be.

What is your training schedule like? do you practice every day?
In a normal training week, we practice all but two days a week; however, one day is usually used and encouraged as a recovery day. On the following second day of the week, I usually try to do an additional session whether that be recovery, conditioning, strength, or technical. During quarantine, I essentially work out every day and three days of the week are a strength and conditioning session. I usually put together a technical session on those days as well.

Do you have a special routine or superstition before you play a big game?
I wouldn’t say that I have a particular routine or superstition but I definitely NEED to have my coffee. I also enjoy having one cup in the changing room as we are all getting ready and pumped up for the game.

Photo: @WestHamWomen

Are you enjoying your time at Birmingham City?
Yes, I have loved not only meeting and becoming friends with some amazing people but also exploring Birmingham. I have managed to find some of favourite spots and I look forward to visiting on my days off. Some days I do venture back to London to visit with friends and run around my old favourites.

How do you feel the season has gone so far?
Unpredictable. I would never have imagined that this would be the season that has taken place. As a player, it is very disheartening to be part of these results and not be able to change the outcome/be the difference. It also wasn’t the personal season that I could have imagined with my health and currently this pandemic. I feel like I am living in a nightmare and I can’t seem to wake up. It’s hard for everyone, but the most important thing is that everyone does their part and tries to stay safe.

If you had a film about your life as a footballer you would you cast as yourself!?
This is a tough one. Perhaps Jennifer Aniston or Lawrence? They’re both very beautiful.

What do you do on your time off?
During my time off, I really enjoy being at my beach house and going to the beach and reading. I also love spending time with my family and friends because its almost a rarity given the career that I have. I also love going to coffee and finding new coffee shops and restaurants. I guess you could say I have a coffee addiction and I am bit of a foodie.