BY MARC WEBER
From battling Brazilians to barmy fans in Barrow, Whitecaps defender Justin Thompson has enjoyed an eventful soccer career. The strapping centre back is featured in this month's Goal Q&A.
GOAL: Have you always been a centre back?
JT: I was a forward growing up and I played in Canada's under-20 team as a striker. At the U20 World Cup in Argentina  we played Iraq to open and I came on as a striker. By the third game against Brazil I was a centre back, playing against Adriano [longtime Inter Milan striker now with Flamengo in Brazil] and Kaka [just moved from AC Milan to Real Madrid].
GOAL: Must have been a thrill. How did that switch come about?
JT: Our captain [a centre back] pulled out with an ankle injury before the Brazil game and [coach] Paul James wanted me to man mark Adriano. It was a baptism by fire. It's one of those gut-check times, so you either man up or you turtle. I felt like I had something to prove. The difference [in skill] is great, obviously, but we were playing on the same field.
GOAL: What do you remember about the game?
JT: We lost 2-0 but we did Canada proud. To be honest with you I didn't think Adriano had a good game, but maybe it's because I was marking him. Physically he was an absolute specimen -- super fast, at least two inches taller than me, built like a brick-you-know-what, and I was one of the big guys. He scored, but it was a scramble in the box off a corner and it wasn't my man at the time, so I don't count it.
GOAL: We've heard you watched all of Canada's U23 Olympic qualifying matches on the Internet. Are you the most hardcore Canadian soccer fan on the team?
JT: Yeah, I think I am. Any time Canada plays at any level I'm interested. I've been through all the programs and know how difficult it is for Canadian teams. I can relate to those guys.
GOAL: How far out of your way have you gone to watch Canada play?
JT: When I was playing for Bury [in England] they had my wife and I up in a hotel in Bolton and we went to some absolute hole in the wall to catch Canada play Burkina Faso in the  U20 World Cup [quarterfinal]. That was pretty cool. Now you can pretty much watch any game on the Internet. Saturday mornings at my house, I'm up early watching a game in the Premiership on TV and I've got one or two games going on my laptop.
GOAL: We've seen your 2007 USL Goal of the Week on YouTube (a cracking 22-yard side-volley winner for Portland at home to Charleston in front of 16,000 fans). Think you'll ever top that?
JT: I don't think so. I don't know what I was even thinking. Normally when I get the ball that far out the last thing on my mind is to shoot. I was in a vulnerable situation if I had lost the ball so I didn't have much choice and I caught it sweet. When people ask I usually say I caught the goalkeeper off his line and picked the corner.
GOAL: Someone refers to you as 'The Lumberjack' under that clip. Was that your nickname in Portland? A play on their Timbers name?
JT: No it came from England. When I was with Worcester City we'd go up to places like Barrow and Workington -- play these non-league games and it's just pouring rain and there's nasty, nasty fans. The research they'd do was hilarious. I'd come onto the field and they'd tell me: "Go back home and cut some trees, ya big lumberjack." I think it was mentioned in an article and some people picked up on that.
GOAL: Maybe the Southsiders can come up with a Monty Python song for you?
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