Nassir Maachi is a professional footballer from the Netherlands and has now made Cyprus his home, playing for Salamina. Anna Shepherd caught up to him on the field in Larnaca about his new life in Cyprus
When did you first realise you wanted to become a professional footballer?
I realised from when I was quite young – I was about nine years old. I saw my first World Cup Tournament and I was quite mesmerised and very inspired. It was then that I said – that is what I want to do.
Many young boys have the dream, but you turned it into a reality. How did you do that?
I believe it’s all about timing. First you need to work hard and believe in yourself. It’s very important to be disciplined but another essential part is having a bit of luck.
What made you select Cyprus?
After many years playing in Holland, I was ready and looking for a new adventures and it was then that Cyprus became a real possibility. I came to the island to visit it and immediately became enthusiastic. There are many positive aspects including the weather, and the lifestyle. It was just the opposite of what I had in Holland and so not that difficult a decision to make.
How difficult was it to adjust to the lifestyle and to the team?
It was not really difficult. I had already made the decision to leave Holland, so was determined and had a positive frame of mind. The lifestyle appealed so much that that part was easy. Maybe the more challenging aspect was on the actual field and at work. I needed some time there, as there is quite a different mentality about football and I also had different and new team mates. Furthermore, the way of playing football was different.
Can you describe a typical day?
I wake up at about 8 and then spend the rest of the morning at the gym and working on my fitness levels. I have lunch and a small nap before getting ready for football training. The evenings I usually spend with my family and watching TV.
What goes on behind the scenes on a match day? How does the team collaborate? Do you all get on together after hours too or is it very much a job?
First of all, we train hard the whole week to have a good performance on the match day. Prior to the beginning of the match, we all meet up and often lunch together. Some of the team just lunch at home and is really depends on where the game is.
We have a meeting and the coach decides and tells us who will be in the first 11 and gives us final words of advice, information or strategy. Players then usually spend time alone, psychologically preparing for the match. I believe it is quite similar to musicians in that it is very much a performance related profession – whether the stage or the football field. Everyone needs to prepare in their own way.
The camaraderie after the match is good and players meet up and go out together.
Footballers have a limited time on the field – do you ever think about what you may do on retirement?
Yes is true, the active career span is not too long. Honestly, I have already started to think about it and what sort of contribution I will be able to make – I’m not dwelling on it at this stage, but there are thoughts and possibilities floating around. I am keen to work with children especially and hope that I might be involved in training in some way and passing on the knowledge I’ve attained over the years – hopefully I still have lots of time on the field though!
Football is obviously a passion, but do you have other interests too?
I have a variety of interests including travel, reading books and of course, spending time with my young family.