LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) You could make the legitimate argument that former Collegiate star, Haji Abdikadir is the best high soccer player to ever take the pitch in the state of Kentucky. "When he was a freshman, he was starting varsity, and you knew, you knew at that point this kid's special", said Collegiate head coach, Chad Wozniak.
His 40 goals last season is the most all-time at the school...landing him the honor of U-S-A Today's Soccer Player of the year. "Just has been a dominant player as a youth player. I think he'll go to college and be a tremendous, tremendous player," said Tim Chastonay. "For me, it feels like I'm getting to the place that I dream about every night," said Abdikadir.
While Haji is making a huge name for himself here in the states, he actually learned the game in his home country of Kenya, and he says that style of football is a little bit different than the more structured football he plays now. His early years playing the sport were basically pickup games without coaches. "I think that all comes from how I grew up," said Abdikadir. Haji moved to Louisville when he was eight years old. He says there wasn't as much of a culture shock because the village he grew up in was just outside of Nairobi, Kenya. A city he describes as similar to Louisville. Abdikadir says coming to the States at a young age made it easier for him to adjust. "I came here as a kid. So as a kid, I think you're brain works different to capture little stuff quickly," he said.
While adjusting to a new culture, he began to excel at the sport he loved, but learned quickly that he had to adjust his street style of soccer to the more structured game. In one of his early games he attempted a bicycle kick on a corner kick. "He's a creative player, and he's a unique type of player, but he also learned to get his teammates involved," said Wozniak.
Haji actually worked out with Lou City FC this season. Head coach, James O'Connor was impressed by the young phenom. "I think he's got farely good attributes. I think he can impact the game. I think his range of passing is good, and I think he is very coachable," said O'Connor.
Haji's ultimate goal is to play for Manchester United, which he may have to adjust that hope if he ends up at their rival Manchester City. "That's a good question," he replied when asked how he would adjust if that were to happen.
But for now, Abdikadir will continue to work towards that dream at U of L. "I'm excited because this is definitely a higher level than what I've been playing in, and being coached under Ken Lolla on John Michael, all the other coaches that are there I think is really great for me to start before my professional career," said Abdikadir.