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 fifth edition of Just Because, we catch up with defender Nico Hasler, who joined Sporting Kansas City in April after successful stints with Toronto FC and the Chicago Fire.
What is your favorite part about Kansas City so far?
Just the whole organization. In the end it’s all about soccer, and that’s why I love to come here every day to train here with the team. Great guys, great facilities. That’s the best part. The fans are also amazing. Going to the stadium and feeling the atmosphere every weekend is very nice. You really feel that the fans here are welcoming to everyone. I appreciate that a lot.
What is your favorite place to eat in the KC area?
I like a lot of different foods—I’m definitely a food lover. My favorite is pizza, so I like to go to the Crossroads. I think they have very good pizza places.
Have you tried any of the BBQ places?
I went to Q39 and I liked it a lot. Botond Barath and I always say we have to try all the restaurants here because we never know how long we are going to be playing, so we like to go to different places.
Other than soccer, which sport would you want to go pro in and why?
When I grew up, I played tennis, too. At one point I had to decide between tennis and soccer. If I had to choose something else, it would probably be tennis.
Which athlete did you look up to as a kid?
My idol is my father (Rainer Hasler). He was playing soccer professionally himself. I never saw him play, but I have seen videos of him playing. He was one of my biggest admirers.
If you had to listen to one song for the rest of your life, what would it be?
It would be Viva la Vida from Coldplay. I went to their concert when I was in Toronto and it was the best concert ever. I love that band a lot, and this is the song I always listen to before games.
What is your favorite movie?
Are you hooked on any TV shows?
I watched Game of Thrones this spring. I like to try different stuff. I don’t focus on just one series at a time.
What other professional teams do you support?
When I moved to Toronto, I started to watch a lot of NBA so I got into the Raptors. I was very happy the Raptors won the NBA Finals this year. I need to start getting into football more here. I heard Kansas City has a really good crowd, a really good stadium and great team. So I’m a Chiefs fan now.
What is your favorite place to travel to for a vacation?
I love to travel. Every offseason I like to go to a different place. One of my favorites I’ve been so far would be Brazil. I went to Rio de Janeiro and the city is amazing. The diversity of the city and what you can do there, and also the people and how welcoming there are, is something I like a lot.
What is the coolest place you have visited, either for soccer or something else?
Brazil is up there for sure. I also liked Toronto when I lived there. I’ve been to Australia, too, and it is a beautiful country.
What is your favorite free-time activity?
I like outdoor activities. When I’m back home in Liechtenstein, I like to hike the mountains. When I’m here ,I like to just walk around the city and try new coffee shops. That’s probably my favorite free-time activity here: go to different coffee spots, bring my book and chill.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
That was for sure from my father. He always told me that life is not easy and that there are always difficulties. If you fall down, you always have to stand up and fight for what you think is right.
Speaking of your father, Rainer Hasler, he was one of the best players in Liechtenstein soccer history. What did you learn from him on and off the field?
You learn day by day. Every day you learn something new where he gives you advice. Especially in soccer, he played professionally so he could help me a lot. He wasn’t the kind of parent that was always telling me ‘You’re the best.’ He was always critiquing me, and in the end that helped me a lot.
What accomplishment off the soccer field are you most proud of?
What I’m really happy about is that I always tried to learn languages in school, and now I can speak fluently in four languages. What helps me a lot is that I can talk to all of my teammates no matter what language they speak.
What do you miss the most about Liechtenstein?
My family. Being around them every day and just seeing them is what I miss the most.
Does your family get to come watch you play a lot?
It’s a long way to travel, but my mother wants to come this fall and I’m very happy about that. Other than that, the only time I see them is when I fly back home with the Liechtenstein national team.
If you were trying to convince someone to visit Liechtenstein, what would you tell them about the country and why they should visit?
I think it’s the world’s most beautiful country without a sea. We don’t have oceans or sea shores, but if we did it would be the best country in the world. It’s a beautiful country with a lot of nature and green spaces. It’s very easy-going and full of friendly people. What is also great is that if you are bored, you can visit Switzerland, Austria and Germany in a very short trip because Liechtenstein is so small.
If you could be any animal, what would it be and why?
That’s difficult. When I was young, I used to say I wanted to be an eagle so I could fly and see the world. Maybe now I would say an elephant because of its character and how they take care of each other.