Eugene Kan is the Managing Editor of Hypebeast.com. As we continue our series ‘The Creative World of Football’, Eugene is our latest friend to share his past, present and thoughts on the world game.
When did you first play or become interested in football/soccer?
My dad definitely put me into football at a young age. Easily the first and virtually the only sport I ever played on an organized level. I also felt that my dad’s own failed exploits to be a professional footballer had him live vicariously through me haha.
What position did you play?
At first, I started playing in the outfield, but as I hit 10, 11 years old, I got fat. So they threw me between the pipes. I would stay there up until the age of 23 or so, and after I quit playing 1st division in Hong Kong, I went on a 2-3 year hiatus but came back to play either in the midfield or up front. I play up front now and score ugly, scrappy goals haha.
Who did you support as a child? Do you still support that team now?
Growing up in Canada… and of Asian descent, you don’t really have a team that you can be organically affiliated with. I never really had a team that I really liked aside from Arsenal, but I think my interest in the club (now and before) was more on their business sense.
Did you parents play a big role in your interest in the sport?
Yeh, my dad like I said pushed hard… but not as hard as school. As he was always working, the only real connecting point with my dad was football. He seemed to always find time to drive me to training or watch games.
Whats your finest memory of football (playing or watching)?
First time I came back to Hong Kong to play 1st division, I was 19 and played the tail end of a season for a club that went into administration under the HKFA. I played pretty well and we rounded out the season in a game against South China Athletic Association (I guess the current Chelski/Man City of HK) who at the time were in a relegation battle. We lost 2-1 off a dubious PK but then again it could have been much worse as it was definitely one of the best games I think I’d ever played. In and around then, my dad was considering flying from Canada to watch. He never did but it still meant a lot to even consider. As you can tell, football and my dad are pretty inter-connected.
Who was your idol growing up?
Stylistically, Oliver Khan and Peter Schmeichel. Just big dominating dudes. I definitely did not command my box like they did but their fearlessness was something I felt I could always incorporate.
Who do you think is the best player in the world today?
To be honest I don’t watch enough live football to give a smart answer outside of the usual Ronaldo/Messi.
Maradona or Pele?
Messi or Ronaldo?
Whats been the biggest change in the sport since you were a kid?
I think the way the sport has become so business-orientated has been the biggest change. Back in Canada of all places, there was little to no infrastructure set-up when I was growing up. Now academies are everywhere trying to develop talent and obviously bank off of it.
Do you still play at all today? Where and when?
I play in HK’s 3rd division on Sundays. Some decent players/ex-pros but also a lot of plumbers. Lots of shit talking going on.
What were the biggest lessons you’ve learnt through football?
Quality. My coach in university always stressed quality and how sub-standard product both technically/tactically/physically was simply not tolerated. I still remember that to this day. Shout out to Len Vickery.
Are there lessons or things you have learnt that you have carried through into your life today?
I think progressive overloading from sports has a lot of carry-over into your everyday life. Football despite what it looks like superficially is just as much mental as it is physical. Every time you push forward just that little bit further, you raise the bar continually. Putting in that extra work makes the next time around easier and easier. I wish I had known a lot of things when I was younger. Technically I wasn’t good enough but attitude wise I felt it was there but then again it wasn’t a huge deal, I’m happy I got as far as I did and still love it every time I step out onto the pitch.