Football News had the pleasure of speaking with Valenciennes’ attacker Majeed Waris who arrived in Ligue 1 in January on loan from Spartak Moscow as VA looked to beef up their attacking options in a bid to avoid relegation into France’s second division.
Born: 19th September 1991
Current Club: Valenciennes (loan), Spartak Moscow
Former Clubs: BK Häcken
As a teenager, why did you decide to start playing football with ‘Right to Dream’, who influenced your decision or was it just a natural step?
Since I was a kid, football was the only sport that I was interested in. I always enjoy playing it and watching it. ‘Right to Dream’ is an academy that provides opportunities for young, talented and under-privledged children to continue their studies and their football.
What did ‘Right to Dream’ do for you in terms of your prospects of becoming a professional footballer?
Normally, you are scouted for the academy and then they give you a 5 year scholarship and provide you with a good education. They train you well on the pitch and they feed you. I worked hard both in terms of football and education which gave me the opportunity to go to Hartpury College in the UK to go and study and continue to develop my football.
My time in Hartpury was great for me in terms of development both in education and in football. I studied for the national award in sport. During my time at Hartpury, I won lots of awards both at school but also football-wise. I scored 36 goals in 20 matches during my college days and joined the Nike Academy at the time too.
You then moved on to Sweden to a side called Häcken. You broke many records there including the first player to score five league goals in a single Swedish 1st division match in the 21st century. What was it like to realise your dream of becoming a professional?
With regards to my time in Sweden, it all started after our college season in England when we went to Sweden for a youth tournament called the Gothia Cup. I scored lots of goals in that tournament and Hacken saw me and told me they wanted me to come back for trials. After this tournament, I went back there to train with them and they were interested in me. First of all, I wanted to sign but of course it was a difficult decision because I still had my studies to think about.
However, I took the decision to sign for them because since I was a kid I always dreamt of playing professional football. I did so well in the UK that clubs wanted to sign me there, but I couldn’t play because of not being able to obtain a work permit and all that.
After my move to Sweden was complete, I was so happy and continued to work really hard. I have heard lots of times during my career so far that I was not good enough to become a professional. Things like I was ‘too short’ but that never stopped me from going forward… I always believe in God. I keep my faith and keep working hard.
What brought about your move in 2013 to Spartak Moscow? Did you have reservations about moving to Russia because of the reported football-related racist attacks on players in that country?
After a successful period in Sweden, I joined Spartak Moscow because they showed a great and serious interest in me. People who were talking about racism at the time and all were not my main issue.
What do you feel is your greatest achievement to date and what would you say your greatest strengths are as a footballer?
My greatest achievement is my winning of all those awards in Sweden and also having represented my country. With regards to my greatest strengths, I always like to play upfront, either on my own or with two up top. I always want to be close to the goal. Off the pitch, I am always happy and do joke around most of the time, but I’m smiling and happy all the time.
Why did you decide to come to France at the beginning of this year?
I chose to come to France because it is one of the best leagues in the world (Ligue 1) and I wanted to come here, work hard and prove myself in one of toughest leagues in the world.
What are your first impressions of Valenciennes as a club?
Since I have been here, I have noticed that the club is like a family. They welcomed me all so well and I have been good with all the players and the coaches. Now that I am here I want to just keep working hard and take any chance that I get. Of course, I also want to help the team to stay up in Ligue 1.
Do you think you are 100% certain to be in Ghana’s squad for the upcoming World Cup this summer?
It will be the dream of every player to play in the biggest tournament in the world. I am working really hard and I hope and pray that I stay for and be in my top form so that I can be in the Ghana team to travel to Brazil.
Is there a club that you dream of playing for? One that you have supported since you were a child? You have a long career ahead of you yet…
I don’t really have a specific team but I have players that I like to watch. Players that play in the same position as I and I try to learn from what they are doing. Players like Aguero, he is one I watch.
Is there a chance that you may make your Valenciennes adventure permanent?
Now that I am in France I really like it here. I would like to stay for a bit longer, but I am only supposed to be here for 6 months and Spartak do still own me. So I just have to continue working hard and see what happens in the next 6 months.