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‘A dream come true’ – NBA icon on Ronaldinho game, Stoichkov’s assist and how Davis is changing Canadian football

The Brooklyn Nets coach scored a memorable goal during Saturday’s celebrity game as he reflected on his love of the game.

Steve Nash fulfilled one of his dreams on Saturday night and Paul Pogba and Hristo Stoichkov participated in this dream.

This is a wild suggestion to say. Nash, 48-year-old NBA Hall of Famer and coach for the Brooklyn Nets. Pogba, the 29-year-old World Cup-winning megastar, has been the subject of one of this summer’s biggest transfer dramas. And then there’s Stoichkov, the 56-year-old former Barcelona and Bulgaria international who terrorized the defense throughout the 1990s.

What a wild combination of people to get together for a moment, but hey, most dreams are too wild to be believed, right?

Nash’s dream moment came on Saturday night in Miami as he was one of the many participants in the aptly titled “Beautiful Game.” Hosted by Brazilian legends Ronaldinho and Roberto Carlos, Nash looked around and saw the players who called him butterflies.

There were Ronaldinho and Roberto Carlos, of course, two icons of the game. Other Cafu legends, Carlos Valderrama, Rivaldo, Deco and Patrick Kluivert were also there, just to name a few of the familiar faces Nash has played with and against.

Current stars such as Pogba, Vinicius Junior, Weston McKenny, Paulo Dybala and Radamel Falcao also took to the field, adding a bit of extra quality and speed to a game that certainly had incredible players on the field at any given time.

It was a game that made Nash momentarily forget that he is now a 48-year-old basketball coach who hasn’t played 11 teams for as long as he can remember.

However, Nash looked natural as he took a touch past Pogba and then shot the ball into the net – a real striker’s kick from the former point guard.

And when the ball hit the net, Nash teleported to another time.

Nash didn’t feel like an NBA Hall of Famer at that point. Instead, he felt like a kid in Canada who fell in love with watching football on TV with his father. At that moment, he remembered why football was and always will be his second love of sports.

“Fortunately, I have the chance to have so many great experiences,” Nash said. GOAL. “It’s not exactly like the first time, but it’s still such an amazing honor to be able to play with some of the greatest players to ever play this game, people that I admire, people that my father and I sat down watching TV and watching at home. .

“That was great. It was fun to be on the field. I haven’t played 11 on a big field for decades, but it was incredible to play.

“I am in my 50s and I have the chance to play with some of the best players in the history of football. It was cool to score a goal and Stoichkov gave me the ball and I played pretty well first. touch, it really made my dreams come true to be honest.”

Growing up in Canada, this was one of Nash’s dreams. Born in South Africa to a Welsh mother and an English father, he grew up in the game. He played football as a child before eventually discovering basketball at the age of 12.

After all, basketball won his heart. A good decision, most would say, considering how things turned out.

However, given his skill and the love of the game he’s shown over the years, it’s fair to say that in another life, Nash might have chosen football over basketball. The former point guard is the perfect person for the famous question “What if our best athletes played football?” question.

With the vision and footwork he displayed as a basketball player, it’s easy to imagine Nash as the tricky, playmaker number 10. There’s a reason he wore the number during his time with the Lakers, and it was his desire to honor three of his favorite players. of all time: Diego Maradona, Zinedine Zidane and Glenn Hoddle.

As Nash says, he’s 50 these days, but his goal on Saturday showed that his touch is certainly still there. Stoichkov may have provided the assist, but it was Nash who did the hard work to score the goal.

Nash Beautiful Game Team photo

Inter Miami

He doesn’t regret his path given his NBA Hall of Famer career, but he never strayed too far from the game. He regularly competed in charity matches with the game’s biggest stars and made his name in the New York futsal scene.

Nash also bought a stake in the Vancouver Whitecaps and has always followed his beloved Tottenham Hotspur from afar.

But now, just as a generation of Canadian basketball stars has grown up wanting to be the next Nash, there is a growing generation of Canadian soccer stars wanting to be the next Alphonso Davis.

In a way, Davis is in the same position as Nash was 25 years ago. The Bayern Munich star is a player who puts Canadian football on the map and opens doors for all those who follow him, just like Nash was in the NBA in the mid-90s.

“For him to go from Edmonton to Vancouver to Bayern Munich, to win the Champions League at such an early age, to be arguably the best left back in the world at such a young age, is just an incredible achievement for him,” Nash said. . “Regardless of the athletic ability, the mentality, things that have to go right and the perseverance he has to have, it’s just incredible.

“This is a tribute to Fonzie and his relentless pursuit of his craft, the way he keeps getting better and how he doesn’t get frustrated by every level he gets to. We are really very lucky to have a player of his quality and mentality.”

It’s not just about Davis though, as Canadian football is really on the rise. Incredibly, Canada finished top of the table during the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying campaign despite Davis missing much of the campaign.

Players such as Jonathan David, Tajon Buchanan and Sile Larin have established themselves as real stars, proving that the country’s success is far from an accident.

As a result, Canada will play in the second men’s World Cup this fall, having missed every tournament since 1986.

It’s a defining moment for playing in Canada, and Nash has dreamed of seeing it since he was a young fan.

Alphonso Davis Canada 2022

Getty Images

“It was incredible,” Nash said. “In order to release players of this level, you have to give [Canada coach] John Herdman is very grateful for the system, style, beliefs and culture they have built there.

“They put out enough talented players, not only obviously world-class players like Fonzie, but also other players who are doing well in their leagues around the world and are able to fit in the system and show themselves and win CONCACAF, which is almost impossible.” incomprehensible.

“If I had been asked 5, 10, 15 years ago, I would have thought that this would never happen. Qualifying is just incredible.

“So many people have waited a long time to see these guys get up and ride in our country. It’s so exciting.”

When Canada kicks off its World Cup campaign against Belgium on November 23, Nash will surely follow. He will be very busy coaching the likes of Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets, but you just know that Nash will have one eye on his country’s long-awaited return to the World Cup.

After all, Nash was only 12 years old when Canada last played on the biggest stage. It was just at that time that he put the soccer ball away for good and focused on basketball.

It’s a moment that for him and many Canadians will feel like a long time, and another that will remind him of what it was like to watch TV, sit with his father and think about football.

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