By Simon Albaugh – Yemeni American News
HAMTRAMCK, Mich. – The Lebanese National Soccer Team has just called on Hamtramck F.C. and Purdue University Forward Ali Nasser, kickstarting the young player’s dreams of moving into professional soccer.
Since Nasser was eight years old, his skilled playing has taken him through the ranks of Michigan’s elite soccer institutions. Moving from travel, to club, to Premier teams and elite University rosters, he’s continued to improve. But for him, none of these are going to be the last destination for his playing.
Nasser was invited to train with the Lebanese National Soccer Team – a team composed of 25 of the best players in the country. It’s almost unheard of to be invited to train with the National Team from another country, Nasser says.
“I thought, this is my first real opportunity,” Nasser said. “Because when you’re playing for a national team, it basically means that there’s the best players in the country on our roster… So being called up to the Lebanese National Team from a different country, it’s very big.”
It was a long road here, Nasser tells the Yemeni American News. Training started for him at 5:00am, and didn’t end until 10:00pm. Between efforts, he needed to maintain the life of a high school student while undergoing advanced workouts and soccer practices. This, he says, almost broke him.
“There’s some days I really just wanted to quit,” Nasser said. “I was so tired. But you know, I was just so dedicated and committed. I’m nowhere yet. I haven’t achieved anything I want to achieve in my professional soccer career, but the work now is starting to pay off a little bit.”
To Ali, this isn’t just about the game. It’s a way of life that he’s still learning through, and a continuation of what he thinks should’ve been his father’s legacy.
At a young age, Ali’s father, Zolfikar Nasser, showed promising signs of a career in professional soccer, even playing professionally in Lebanon. Nasser says that the lack of support led to an early end for his father’s career.
While his father’s career ended early because of no assistance, Ali says that it’s the help from his family that has allowed him to reach each new level.
“I tell myself it will be worth it,” Nasser said. “You know, seeing a big smile on my dad’s face, it just means the world to me. Like, taking a picture with him by my side, and the professional contract in front of me – that’s my dream.”
With all the work that Ali has put into soccer, and all the work that he’s promised himself, his goals are far-reaching. Eventually, Nasser hopes to play for one of the elite European teams, or even the highest-ranking American teams.
Nasser knows that this is going to take more. Even though he’s only finishing his freshman year of college as a business student and athlete, he has his eyes set on the farthest reaches of professional soccer.
But to get there, he says he needs to do more, make better decisions. Continuing pushing his body and skills past the limits that he’s broken through so many times before. And for that, his mind stays on how he could improve.
“You know, you reach a point in your college career where everyone’s at a high level,” Nasser said. “Everybody can pass the ball, everybody can shoot the ball. Everybody plays good soccer. But what separates you from the rest? I always ask myself that.”