Not too many Jordanian sports stars have made a name for themselves overseas, but one footballer has become a huge fans’ favourite and household name in a European country.
Moussa Al-Tamari is a shining star in Cyprus where he was recently voted the League Player of the Season after winning the league title.
Now, as he prepares to play in the Champions League with his club APOEL FC, we caught up with him for our sixth episode of #Meet_our_Champ.
When did you start playing football, and how did you become a professional player?
I began to play football in the seventh grade with the promising team of Hay Nazzal who I joined after I showing my ability in my school team. We played a game later with the Jordan youth team, which I again impressed in so I became a player with Shabab Al Urdon where I later and signed a contract to join the first team.
Why did you prefer football to any other sport?
Kickboxing was the first sport I practiced in my youth under the leadership of Issa Abu Nassar (the current coach of the national Kickboxing team). The person who encouraged me to practice this sport was my teacher at the mosque to improve my physical and mental level, but my father saw that I had distinctive skills in football which I really loved so for a while I played both before I switched to full time football. However, I always make sure I practice Kickboxing in my free time.
How did it feel when APOEL FC of Cyprus wanted to sign you?
I was not sure to start, but my father encouraged me and strongly supported me to accept this offer and to go into my first professional experience outside of Jordan. I knew that APOEL FC representatives had come to Amman to watch me play a friendly for Jordan against Cyprus, and then watched me in a match between Al Jazeera and Shabab ALUrdon. This level of commitment motivated me to want to sign for APOEL FC despite a number of offers from clubs in the Gulf. I always wanted to play in Europe and, Alhamdulillah, my choice was 100% right.
How was it at the start with APOEL FC? Did you face any difficulties?
Certainly, the beginning was not easy at all. The culture and lifestyle are quite different from Jordan. Staying away from my family and friends is not easy. I also had great difficulties with the language there. I did not know anyone in Cyprus. But the support I had from the APOEL FC administration meant it is a family atmosphere at this club. My teammates played a huge role as well in making me feel welcome. They gave me all the support I needed and now I don’t feel a stranger anymore. I am very happy with this great club.
How did you manage to win the hearts of the fans and Cypriot media in such a short time?
This is great for me and something I am very proud of. I think that my arrival raised some eye brows with the fans and media at the beginning who were not sure of my ability. There was a lot of media attention. But it has gone very well so I am very happy to have such a strong affinity with the local media and the fans. This is really a wonderful thing and I thank everyone for their continued support for me.
Describe your first season with APOEL FC?
Quite simply, it has been a great experience that I have benefited greatly from, both technically and physically. It has also improved my English language which I have worked hard to learn. I have gained some tremendous experience in my first season which has also and changed my way of thinking. My goals have no limits and I look forward to reaching the highest level of professionalism that I can.
In less than a month you will start qualifying for UEFA Champions League. Describe the importance of participating in this big competition?
Playing in the UEFA Champions League is the dream of any Arab player because it is the most important tournament in the world which includes the best players. The journey of APOEL FC is not easy at all because we will have three qualifying rounds before the group stage, but in APOEL FC everyone believes in our ability to qualify and represent Cyprus in the most important tournament. We have two camps in Italy and Austria in readiness to achieve the dream for the masses, not only the Cyprus but also in Jordan where I receive widespread support from fans of all clubs. I want to be the first Jordanian player in the Champions League and, God willing, this will be achieved.
Are you inspired seeing other Jordanians achieve at international sports events?
I am very happy when I see any Jordanian player win a medal, or a national achievement from various sports. Like all Jordanians, I remember Taekwondo star Ahmed Abu Ghaush winning the historic gold medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics. That was a special moment for us all. As athletes we are committed to doing our best. We will achieve for Jordan and make our people proud.
In January, the Asian U23 Cup will be played, which is a qualifier for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. What are your expectations?
I can’t wait to join up with the national team to play in this tournament. Reaching the Olympics would be a dream come true. It is not an impossible task, but it needs focus and all of our capabilities and expertise to qualify. With the fans behind us, we can achieve anything.