One of Atlanta United’s newest signings, Saba Lobjanidze, made his first appearance for the 5-Stripes on Saturday in their 4-0 rout over Nashville SC. The winger’s debut became even more memorable when he scored the final goal of the night off a back-heel inside the six-yard box.
Lobjanidze predicted that goal last week when we sat down and asked him 17 questions to help the 17s get to know him better. Here’s more from the 28-year-old from Georgia:
What made you want to join Atlanta United?
Atlanta is a nice team with a nice history, so it was quite interesting for me. Also, I like competitions. I like challenges, so that’s why I decided to come, because I know the team is a competitive team in the league. And everything is absolutely amazing really, the stadium, the facilities.
What is Georgia (the country) like?
I lived in Tbilisi; it’s the capital city in Georgia. It’s a very nice place, and you can see everything there. We have mountains, seas and so many nice places. I love my country.
What's your first soccer memory?
My father, he loves the sport. I have two big brothers, so he tried with them, but they were not so good. So, when I was four years old, I [began playing soccer]. I was so small because the other kids were like five, six, seven, so I was the smallest. That’s what I can remember.
Do you have any nicknames?
Well on the national team, everyone calls me Loba. My [last] name is Lobjanidze, so it’s like a small nickname from there. So Loba or Saba.
How would you describe yourself in three words?
Competitive. Hard worker. Determined.
How would you describe your playing style?
I’m a winger, so my job is to make the final pass, and I think I’m good with that. I’ll try to help the team with that. I’m very fast. So, I will do my best with my pace and with my final pass. And I love to score goals, also. I will score for sure.
When I was a kid, my father and I were outside everyday working on my skills, dribbling and shooting. I like those kind of [flashy] skills. I probably will do it for Atlanta.
How do you prepare for a match day?
Honestly, I don’t like rituals because sometimes you [start] overthinking it. So, I just try to be cool. Sometimes I listen to music but nothing special.
What helps you when you’re going through a tough time?
When I’m struggling and going through a tough time, I just love to train. The time that you’re training, you don’t think too much. You just concentrate on your body. It helps me so much, so I love training or working out.
What do you like to do on long road trips or flights with the team?
First of all, I’m trying to sleep. If I can’t sleep, I’ll listen to music or play games with my teammates to pass the time.
If you weren’t playing soccer, what would you be doing?
I love sports, so it would have to be something in sports. I don’t know. I love the NBA, so maybe a basketball player.
Who is your favorite NBA player?
For me, Kobe [Bryant] is the GOAT. I grew up watching Kobe, but now my favorite player is Jayson Tatum.
What’s your favorite meal or snack?
Probably pasta. I like spaghetti because I can make it.
Do you have a favorite TV show?
For me, one of the best is Game of Thrones.
What about your favorite movie?
I like Forrest Gump. It’s an old one, but it’s good.
What are some of your tattoos and their meanings?
I have a wing [on my arm]. It has no meaning; I just like it. I have an angel. I have my birth year [in roman numerals], 1994. I have Thor’s hammer from Marvel. When I score a goal, I celebrate with “my time,” so I have a clock [on my calf]. I have an arrow and a [lightning bolt] because I like speed. I’ll probably get more in the future.
What has been the most memorable moment of your soccer career?
I think my debut with the national team. It was so emotional for me.
What are you most excited about now that you’re in Atlanta?
Every game. I love competition. I came here for the win, so for every game, I’m going for the three points.