Enrique Iglesias will be singing at Mandalay Bay on Saturday during Mexican Independence Day weekend. But if his career had followed his boyhood fantasies, he wouldn’t be singing. He’d be playing soccer for a living.
"It’s the one sport I used to dream of — being the guy scoring the deciding goal," he says.
As a kid, he wasn’t bad on the field.
"I was mediocre," Iglesias says. "The funny thing is, when I moved here to America, I moved to Little League, and at the time, soccer wasn’t big" in the United States. "And I was really good compared to the American kids. So I felt kind of cool."
But he knew his limits.
"Being an athlete is extremely difficult," he says. "You truly need so much meditation, so much competition."
This year, Iglesias settled for the next best thing to being a soccer star: He sang "Can You Hear Me?," the anthem at the Euro Cup, during the soccer finals.
He was nervous, he says, and the best part wasn’t even getting to perform but to watch his native Spain win an exciting semifinal and then the championship.
"The level of playing is absolutely amazing," he says. "To be able to watch them do that!"
Lately, Iglesias, 33, has been recording new music in a Miami studio and preparing to issue a greatest-hits album of his Spanish-language songs. He’s one of the rare singers who has sung nearly as many English-language pop hits as Spanish-language singles.
But he’s "still looking for the perfect song," he says.
"I truly feel like I haven’t written the best song I can write," he says and draws this analogy: "A guy goes fishing, he catches a 400-pound marlin — then he wants to catch a 500-pound one."
When he’s on tour, he finds it a little difficult to write songs. But he does think about how a new song would sound when played in front of 5,000 or 10,000 people.
Those crowds can be wild. Half a decade ago, Iglesias played the Aladdin, where women kept running onstage to wrap themselves around him. When he’s reminded of that show, he says, "My fans are crazy, but they’re fun."
He proclaims he’s dedicated to the music, not celebrity. Striving for that music-first goal, he’s signed up Aventura, the hip-hop/reggae dance group that sings in both Spanish and English, to open for him.
"I wanted to do something different," he says. "This one will be great."
Contact Doug Elfman at 702-383-0391 or e-mail him at email@example.com. He also blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.PREVIEW who: Enrique Iglesias when: 8 p.m. Saturday where: Mandalay Bay Events Center, 3950 Las Vegas Blvd. South tickets: $55-$95 (632-7580)