You may keep up with Sporting Kansas City on the pitch, but what about away from the field?
Just Because, presented by Hallmark, is a feature series on SportingKC.com that provides an exclusive look into the lives of players outside of soccer—because everyday moments are sometimes worth celebrating just like a game-winning goal.
In the fourth edition of Just Because, we catch up with midfielder Gedion Zelalem, who joined Sporting Kansas City in March after a long spell with English club Arsenal FC.
What is your favorite part about Kansas City so far?
Probably downtown. There’s a lot of stuff to do, lots of good restaurants, and it’s just a very fun area.
What is your favorite place to eat in the KC area? What do you order?
For me, I’d probably say Q39. It’s the best barbeque I’ve had here. The ribs and the barbeque sauce are amazing.
Other than soccer, which sport would you want to go pro in and why?
Basketball. It’s a really fun sport to watch and there are a lot of similar movements to soccer.
Which athlete did you look up to as a kid and why?
Ronaldinho. He was so entertaining to watch. Everyone growing up loved him at the time, and I was definitely one of them.
Who is your favorite artist and what is your favorite type of music to listen to?
My favorite artist is Drake. Hip hop and rap are my preferred genres.
If you had to listen to one song for the rest of your life, what would it be?
One of the songs from Drake’s album Take Care. I don’t think I can pick just one.
What is your favorite movie?
Interstellar was really good. Inception was also great. I like clever movies like those.
Are you hooked on any TV shows?
I’ve been watching Money Heist and Stranger Things, but I’ll watch just about anything on Netflix.
How do you like to spend time away from the pitch? Any big hobbies?
I like playing video games, going to the pool in the summer and just hanging out with friends and relaxing. Kansas City has been good in that regard.
What other professional teams do you support?
I support all the D.C.-based teams, so the Washington Wizards, the Washington Redskins and the Washington Capitals.
What is your favorite place to travel to for a vacation?
Last summer I went to Turks and Caicos, and that was really nice. I’d have to go with that.
What is the coolest place you have visited?
When I was playing with Arsenal, we traveled to Asia for a tournament. We visited Vietnam and Japan, so it would probably be one of those.
What do you put on your pizza?
I used to do pepperoni, but lately I’ve been sticking with plain cheese. I don’t really eat pizza, though.
If you could have dinner with anyone, who would it be and why?
Barack Obama because I’d like to ask him about his political secrets. Kevin Hart because he’s hilarious. And then Michael Jordan to talk about his mentality, how he became so successful and how that feedback could help my game.
What is the biggest piece of advice you would give someone?
It’s simple, but my message would be to work hard. It’s not always easy, especially when things aren’t going your way. Work hard and you can do almost anything.
If you could be any animal in the world, what would it be and why?
Probably a lion. I’d like to be the king of the jungle.
Any gameday rituals or traditions? Superstitions?
Not really. I put my left boot on before my right. I try to take a little nap in the middle of the day if the game's at night.
What accomplishment off the soccer field are you most proud of?
Graduating high school.
Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
My dad. He’s always been there for me and always sacrificed so much. My family moved around with me for several years and my dad was always driving me to soccer practice.
What three words would you use to best describe yourself?
Calm, ambitious and happy.