Matthias, what was it like joining such a prestigious academy like West Ham?
“It was amazing really, I joined at the age of 7 and for me at that age it was just about enjoying football then. I obviously started to come through the ranks and was being offered new contracts which at that time was perfect for me. I was really enjoying my time there.”
How did you feel when they finally decided to let you go?
“It was hard because coming through the academy, West Ham was the only team I had really known. For them to let me go it was tough, the first couple of months I really struggled but I’ve got over that now and I’m in a much better place.”
You’re now at Eastleigh, how are things going there?
“They are going really well, there’s a young manager here who is an ex-pro who knows all about the game. He knows how it is for young players and he puts his arms around me and looks after me.”
How hard is it to go from a Premier League set up with a team like West Ham, to something very different?
“It can be difficult depending how you approach it as a footballer.
I think you’ve got to set your mind on where you want to be and when you take that step down you’ve got to work hard at it and get on with it so you can one day make that step up again.”
Matthias, you are very fast! You’re the fastest player recorded, tell us about it?
“Basically, we were playing a game against Blackburn and we would wear these GPS data chips that record our speed, movements etc and I didn’t really hear about it until a year after. I remember one day the guys who analysed our data put the stats up in our changing room and I was amongst one of the quickest which was surprising for me.”
How would you describe yourself as a player?
“I would say, fast and direct.”
“It would have to be making my first team debut for West Ham, definitely.”
“To become a professional footballer at the highest level possible. Whether that be the Premier League or Championship.”
Best player you’ve ever played with?
“That’s a tough one! I think in terms of talent, I would say Ravel Morrison.
He is clearly a gifted player on the ball and he does it so effortlessly. He is a player that makes you go “wow”.”
Tell us how you became a Christian?
“I was born into a Christian household. My mum and dad are both Christians, so growing up in that environment was really good for me. It gave me morals and allowed me to go to church every Sunday which in turn has matured me into the man I am today.”
What does your faith mean to you?
“It means a big deal but to be fair at the start of my professional career it wasn’t as important as it should have been. I was going to church for the sake of it and then I realised that I needed God in my life. I remember my dad chatting to me and saying “why don’t you try talking to God like you do to a friend?”, so from then on I really tried sitting down and speaking with God on a more personal level and it’s been great for me.”
Would you say it’s difficult to be a Christian in the world of professional football?
“I think growing up it’s one of those things that you can go along with the lads and follow the crowd. Being a Christian isn’t the “cool thing” to others, but it’s important to step out and show others that you do believe in God.
Do you see your footballing talent as a gift from God?
“Absolutely, I think that God gives us a talent and I am thankful he has blessed with the gift of playing football.”