It was a long wait, but he’s finally here. Atlanta United’s newest forward Jamal Thiaré, who signed with Atlanta in early August, made his debut with the club in its match against CF Montréal on September 23. He was subbed on in the 83rd minute to loud applause from the supporters at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
The 30-year-old was born in Kaolack, Senegal and spent most of his professional career in Belgium and France before joining Atlanta United. He has totaled 31 goals and 18 assists in 129 appearances across all competitions.
We sat down with Thiare and asked him 17 questions so that our 17s could get to know him better.
What made you choose Atlanta United?
I chose Atlanta United because it’s a club that’s well structured, very professional, and I took the opportunity that Atlanta United offered me to be able to come to play in the United States.
I watched a few Atlanta United games, and I thought they were doing great. I also did reach out to Tristan [Muyumba] and Xande [Silva] just to get a little bit of their feedback and a bit of reassurance about how collectively the team works. I loved what I saw and what I heard, so that’s why I came.
What was your first impression of the club once you got here?
From what I have seen, which is the Training Ground and the facilities here, I’m so happy and so impressed, speechless even. I can say that I’m very happy to be here.
How have you been adjusting to being in a new country?
I really wanted to go abroad, learn about a new culture, be with a new club with a different language. It’s definitely a new challenge, but it doesn’t scare me.
What do you think about the city of Atlanta?
For the moment, I still have more to explore in the city, but from what I can see, it’s a vibrant city, the people are happy and intentional when approaching them, and I think that’s very important. I like it so far. It’s a nice city, but I think that I still have a lot to discover.
What got you into playing soccer?
I have an older brother who would play football, and I would just play in school and at home.
What are Senegal and Belgium like?
Senegal is a calm country; it’s a country that really doesn’t have social problems or religious problems. It’s a peaceful country. Belgium is where I began playing soccer professionally, and I wasn’t there for long, but it’s a good country.
How would you describe yourself in three words?
Personally, I describe myself as someone who is happy, which I think is important in life. But to other than those that really know me, I’d say I am very private and calm.
How would you describe your playing style?
I would say I am very fast and that’s my specialty.
How do you prepare for match day?
I think before a match. I try to focus deeply and prepare as much as possible.
Do you like or watch any other sports besides soccer?
I went to my first baseball game when I got to the United States, and it’s a sport that I really appreciate because of the good ambiance even though I don’t fully understand all the rules. But now that I am in the United States, I am excited to further discover other sports here and learn.
Do you have a favorite soccer player?
I don’t have a favorite soccer player. I just watch a lot of matches on TV and a lot of leagues' championships, but I don’t have a favorite player or a favorite team. I just like to watch good football and good matches.
What’s your favorite TV show?
I don’t watch TV shows. I watch football a lot, but other than that I like to watch documentaries and movies.
What’s your favorite food?
The chicken in Senegal, it’s prepared amazingly. All the food there is great.
What has been the most memorable moment of your career?
The most memorable moment was the first time I had the opportunity to play professionally. My dad was there, and I played for him. That moment made an impression on me. I felt like I succeeded in my life at that moment—for him and for myself. Another moment was when I became a champion in my second year in Ligue 2. It was the objective of the club I was in, and it was achieved. It’s a moment that’s very memorable.
What would you be if you weren’t a soccer player?
I would definitely be teaching. It runs in my family, and I think I would be a professor, a philosopher, or a math teacher.
What do you do in your free time?
I like to learn and to think a lot. I like to think about the future and wonder where I’ll be in 30 years, or in 45, or in 60. I think life is about learning and planning.
What are your goals for the rest of this season?
I think the objective of this season is to qualify for the playoffs and to make it as far as possible. My biggest personal objectives are to do my best and also to learn everything about the club.