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Ageing NBA star nurtures football dream

Steve Nash is eyeing a different ball game once he hangs up his basketball boots. Shail Desai reports. Factfile

other Updated: Feb 05, 2012 01:27 IST
Shail Desai
Shail Desai
Hindustan Times

It’s hard to believe the day will come when Steve Nash won’t be seen bringing the ball up court, with a glint in his eyes, pondering over the next play. After 16 years of entertaining basketball fans in the National Basketball Association (NBA), the 37-year-old could very well be in his last few seasons. But while the sport may well be at a loss, football, or ‘soccer’ as the Phoenix Suns point guard likes it, may very well be the winner.

The moment you pop a first question on football to a two-time NBA MVP, the excitement is visible in his voice.

“Oh I’m hugely passionate about soccer. My dad was a pro-player in South Africa, where I was born and soccer ran in the family. We moved to Canada when I was a baby, and through my growing years, I played soccer. I still remember that feeling when we won the Championship while at high school in British Colombia. Basketball started pretty late for me honestly,” he said in a telephonic chat.

While younger brother Martin turned out in 38 internationals for Canada, and sister Joann played for her university side, Nash moved over to basketball while in his teens. The addiction was infused in the family genes by an English grandfather who lived down White Hart Lane, home to Premier League club Tottenham Hotspurs – a team Nash grew up to worship and still supports.

“I have good relationship at Spurs. I’ve been there a few times for games and it was a simple case of family tradition for me to support them. I can’t dream of supporting another club. The team’s grown on me and look good for the league this year,” he said.

Money on soccer
In fact, back in October 2007, Steve had even mentioned his desire of investing in the Spurs, something ‘I could do for the rest of my life’ he had said then. That plans been on hold since, but what’s closer to home hasn’t taken long.

In 2008, Steve invested alongside three others in the Vancouver Whitecaps that plays in the Major League Soccer, the American national league. His brother Martin skippered the side then, and is currently part of the coaching staff at the club. Steve even steps out at times in the midfield, his favourite place on the ground, to be part of a Whitecaps training session.

“It’s something that I always wanted to do and since the Whitecaps are based out of the place where I live, it was always on the cards I guess. Once I do call it a day, I want to focus on the club and take the team forward,” Steve said.

While spending most of his off-season in Manhattan, Steve hit it off with New York Red Bulls star recruit Thierry Henry when he moved in 2010, and the Frenchman has been a good buddy as well as a role model.

“What a career Henry’s had!” he said.

“He’s played at some of the best teams in the world; he’s won the Champions League, the Premier League, the Spanish League, and has worked wonders for his club here. He’s even got a World Cup,” he said.

First Published: Feb 04, 2012 22:41 IST