Ahead of Tottenham Hotspur’s visit to Malaysia, winger Nacer Chadli chats with us about his excitement of coming to this part of the world…
Let’s get the easiest question out of the way: why Malaysia?
We are well aware of the fantastic following we have in Malaysia and knew that there is a huge appetite for the fans to see us play in their country. Through the partnership we have with AIA, the club have been doing a lot of work in Malaysia to develop the game at the grassroots level, which we will be involved with when we visit. Also, the club recently launched social media channels in Bahasa Malaysia, and our fans can follow us on Twitter @Spurs_ MAS, so now seems like the perfect time to visit.
How important is it for clubs like Tottenham to go on pre-season tours every season?
It is a great way of reaching out to our fans in different parts of the world that don’t always get to see us play up close. We have over 400 million followers across the globe, over 170 million in the Far East alone, and many fan clubs who make the effort to meet up and watch our games live on television despite the huge time differences. Coming to visit them and hopefully putting on a show are our way of saying thank you, and it is also great for us as players to visit new countries and experience different cultures.
Have you personally been in the country before?
I have not had the pleasure of visiting Malaysia yet, but I have heard many great things about the country and the city of Kuala Lumpur. I know that there is huge interest in the Premier League and in Tottenham Hotspur. I am also aware that it is a beautiful country with many exciting things to do.
What are you looking forward to do the most in Malaysia?
I am looking forward to seeing the Petronas Twin Towers, which is a well-known landmark, and experiencing the warm weather and maybe some of the traditional food! More than anything, I am looking forward to playing at the Shah Alam Stadium and meeting our Malaysian supporters.
Tottenham’s youth squad was in Malaysia a few months ago for the Frenz International Cup 2015, where they easily brushed aside Malaysian side Frenz United 5-0. Will we be expecting a similar result when you guys take on the Malaysia XI this May?
Our Under-18 side has had a fantastic season, having reached the semi-finals of the FA Youth Cup,and we are continuing to develop exciting young players for the future, so it’s great that our fans in Malaysia got to see them produce a performance like that. As for us seniors, we are expecting a tough game against some of the best players from Malaysia, and although we definitely want to put on the best possible display for our fans, we would not expect to win by such a huge margin.
The tour will take place immediately after the current Premier League season ends. What do you hope Tottenham would’ve achieved by then?
We have a few games left this season, and although finishing in the top four will be difficult, we will not give up and we will try to win every game if we can and see where it takes us. The main thing is finishing the season as strong as possible, so that we can come on the tour in positive spirits and have something to build on for next season.
Have you ever had any weird encounters with your fans during pre-season tours?
I wouldn’t say weird, but the passion of the fans always amazes me wherever you go. When I first signed for Spurs in 2013, I went straight out to Hong Kong to join up with the team on their pre-season tour. The first morning I walked out of the hotel with the team I was greeted by a huge crowd of fans waiting for autographs, making me realise the size of the club and what it means to people, no matter where in the world they are. I expect the same experience in Malaysia.
Any last words?
I am looking forward to seeing the fans in May and cannot wait to visit Malaysia for the first time. Tickets are available now, so I hope our fans will be at the Shah Alam Stadium on May 27th. It should be a great match!
The interview was first published in the May 2015 issue of FourFourTwo Malaysia/Singapore. All tickets for the match are now available for purchase at Ticketpro, either online via www.ticketpro.com.my and hotline, +603-7880-7999.