Meet our Chinese-speaking Romanian Top Scorer
An Interview with Prague Raptors Men's Striker Alex Aionitoaei - By Simona Lebánková
He is from Romania, but lived in Ireland since he was 14. He is the Prague Raptors Top Scorer (20 goals in 13 games this season), but as he says: "My goals are nothing spectacular, I am just at the right place in the right time" ’What does he think about his opponents and how did he get to Prague Raptors? Read more in the new interview with Alex Aionitoaei.
How did you get to Raptors?
I was playing for a different team before. There was an English guy who played for our our team and he told me about Raptors. He was in contact with Daz through LinkedIn, so I wrote to Daz on LinkedIn that I am interested. Daz told me about the trials, but I got injured. My hamstring got pulled and I was told that I can’t play for two months. I saw what Daz is doing and I really liked it so much , so I decided to trial injured. I scored two goals and got into Raptors.
How long have you been in Prague?
I have been here since October 2016. I lived in Romania until I was 14, then I moved to Ireland and went to school there. My parents moved there, because life in Romania was not really good. I lived in China for one year, because I studied Chinese in the university. I lived in Beijing and it was the best year of my life. People are always interested talking to you and I love their food too. I am still doing Chinese classes every week with a teacher from Beijing.
Do you plan to stay here?
I am staying for two more years and then I will see. I love Prague, but there is so many cities I like around the world. I really like Barcelona, Saint Petersburg and Shanghai and I would love to give a try to these cities as well. I was about to leave Czech Republic, but I decided to sign another contract. I moved here because I didn't have a connection with Ireland. Prague is more fun and interesting.
Do you miss something about Romania?
I miss the food. It’s quite similar to Czech cuisine, but we have a lot of grilled stuff. The difference is that in here, you eat meat with a lot of sauce and some rice. In Romania we eat similar stuff, but without so much sauce. Here I don‘t like when I order a dish and I must put the sauce away to look and see how the meat actually looks like. We have a lot of soups. Soups for Romanians are like pasta for Italians. I also miss my grandma and sometimes the people. For example I can‘t believe how many times I am in the tram in Prague and people are like at the funeral. It’s so quite. I am thinking why are people not talking to each other, because in Romania we definitely would.
What is important for you as a football player and who is your inspiration?
I think it’s different examples. You can see players succeeding, like Messi, who has a lot of talent, but no physical attributes. If you look at Ibrahimovic, he is a pure example of physical, confidence and hard work. Ronaldo is combination of everything. And then you have Zinedine Zidane, who is my idol, he is example of discipline, modesty and he is humble. For me it’s hard work, discipline and being a team player. You can not succed alone. Never. You need to put the team first and as a striker you tend to be really selfish, but if you look at our games, everytime I had a chance to pass to somebody else to score, I did and I love the team spirit over myself. This is what football is about. Work together, win together, celebrate together and lose together.
Did you always liked football?
I started when I was 5 years old and up until 12 I took it very seriously. I went to the national team under 12. But my parents decided to leave the country. I loved football and I was thinking I will be playing in Ireland. But it was difficult. I couldn’t speak English at all and it took me a few years to get into it. I lost some really important years in a life of a footballer, development years between 13-16. When I tried later on, I couldn’t get in, because I didn’t have the physical ability and I didn’t have the style as well. In Ireland you need to be quite physical. I left football behind and I started focusing on my studies.
How would you describe your football style?
I am a friendly guy on the pitch. I like to build relationship with my opponents, so when I go on the pitch, I am always friendly, I joke with them and I say sorry if I hit them. I like to gain the respect of the people on the pitch by my style of play and attitude. I don’t like to be aggressive as you will stop enjoying the game of football. At the end of the day we all love football. I always play for the team. I like to be tactical, there is so many aspects to the game. I would also say that I am opportunistic. If you look at my goals, 15 are from situation when I was reading what’s happening and where I should be to make sure I make the most of that situation. My goals are nothing spectacular. I am just at the right place in the right time.
What do you like to do except football?
I love travelling, table tennis, volleyball and I enjoy spending time out with my friends. I also like dancing, I even did salsa for two years. I would like to see 100 countries in my life. I have been to 40 so far. I tried to travel as much as possible to new places, because I don’t like to go to the same place twice.
What’s on your list this year?
Morocco, Lebanon and Jordan. I am also thinking about Belarus and Portugal. The biggest goal is to make a trip around South America for like 6 months. I like to travel alone, stay in hostels and meet new people. Some people think it’s weird, but I like it.
Fun fact about you or something we don’t know yet?
You don’t know that I learned how to ride a bike when I was 20. It was in China and I went out with my friends. We came back to our campus and we used to have free bikes for the students. My friends decided it will be fun taking the bikes back to our dormitory. I didn’t want to tell them that I don’t know how to ride a bike, so I tried but I really couldn’t do it. Three Irish guys, 5 o’clock in the morning and they were teaching me how to ride a bike. Next day I was riding purposeless around the campus all day. That’s how happy I was.
5 Questions with Alex
Ronaldo or Messi?
Summer or Winter?
Leader or Follower?
Left foot or right?
Romania or Czech Republic?
You can follow Alex on Instagram @alex.iony
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