Welcome to YouTube Millionaires, where we profile channels that have recently crossed the one million subscriber mark. There are channels crossing this threshold every week, and each has a story to tell about YouTube success. Read previous installments of YouTube Millionaires here.

The FIFA video game series is Andy Castell‘s domain, and he’s the king of the virtual pitch. On his AJ3 YouTube channel, Castell, who is partnered with Whistle Sports, delves into the world of FIFA and returns with gameplay videos, in-game challenges, and fun experiments for his fans. As his cachet in the digital soccer world has increased, he has also worked more real-life soccer content into his approach, as well as vlogs and collaborations. As he celebrates one million subscribers, here’s our chat with him:

Tubefilter: How does it feel to have one million subscribers? What do you have to say to your fans?

Andy Castell: Crazy. I think that’s the only word for it. I looked up a video of a concert in Russia that had one million people there and it was just people as far as you could see in every single direction. The fact that that many people have subscribed to my channel is mind-blowing. I’ll never be able to thank them all individually, but for any of them reading this, thank you so much for all the love and support, and I hope I can pay it back with many videos for a long time to come.

TF: What do you think makes the FIFA video game series so special to you?

AC: For me Fifa has been a journey. From watching my dad play FIFA 99 on the original PlayStation, to football consuming my entire weekends as a teenager (with my Saturday and Sunday league teams, my season ticket at Everton, and playing FIFA all evening), to making my YouTube channel and having it become my job! Who knows what I’d be doing if FIFA wasn’t around, so for me it’s so special as it has had such a massive impact on my life as a whole.

TF: How do you think the FIFA games have improved as they’ve gone on? Are the places where you think they’ve taken steps back?

AC: For me FIFA (and video games as a whole) first and foremost should be fun. In previous years there have been times when I feel FIFA has leaned more towards simulating real-life, but in doing so has lost some of the fun factor. However FIFA 17 seems to have found the perfect balance. I haven’t had this much fun playing FIFA since FIFA 12!

TF: Are there places where you think the FIFA games produce moments that real-life football matches cannot?

AC: Of course! FIFA and real-life football overlap in many ways, but both have their own individual aspects too. Not every football fan is a gifted athlete, and with the growth of e-sports and the addition of The Weekend League, it allows people to experience the competitive side of football who may not normally be able to.

TF: Beyond FIFA, what other video games do you enjoy playing?

AC: At the moment I’m playing A LOT of League of Legends (probably too much!). Battlefield 1 has just been released so that’s taking over some of my time too, and I’m super excited for Call of Duty 4 remastered.

TF: What inspired you to launch your charity project in Africa?

AC: I was approaching one million subscribers and wanting to do something a bit different from the usual one million sub specials. I wanted to use YouTube to help change other people’s lives for the better, just as YouTube has changed mine. Then, when Tackle Africa got in touch, I learned more about the amazing work they do and it seemed to me to be the perfect fit.

TF: What is the most interesting thing you’ve learned as you’ve interacted with football fans around the world?

AC: It sounds so cliche when people say “football is the language of the world”, but you don’t realize how true it is until you’re in a foreign country, 1000’s of miles from home. I found that you don’t need to speak their language or know their culture, so long as you have a football with you and fancy a game. We’re all just football fans.

TF: Are there other types of content you’re interested in?

AC: In terms of consuming content I mainly watch science and educational videos, including people like Tom Scott, SmarterEveryDay, Veritasium, Kurzgesagt, and many more. I like stuff that is pointless to know, but interesting nonetheless.

TF: What’s next for your channel? Any fun plans?

AC: I’m just looking forward to getting properly stuck in to FIFA 17, and maybe branching out into a lot more real-life football in the near future.

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