Blaise Matuidi Is Determined To Make MLS History For David Beckham In The Magic City

Blaise Matuidi
Watch: Ulysse Nardin

Photo Credit: Nick Garcia

WORLD CUP CHAMPION BLAISE MATUIDI HAS COME TO MIAMI TO WIN…

AND HE’S NOT GOING ANYWHERE WITHOUT ONE.

BY LAURA SCHREFFLER
PHOTOGRAPHY NICK GARCIA
GROOMING CESAR FERRETTE

SHOT ON LOCATION AT 57 OCEAN

Although his inaugural season playing for inter Miami CF is now over, French soccer champion Blaise Matuidi is even more determined to go, fight and win in his second year playing for the Major League Soccer club.

The 33-year-old athlete has had a storied career. He made his professional debut in the 2004-2005 season with French club Troyes, and then, three seasons later, he played European ‘football’ with Saint-Étienne, where he participated in the 2008-09 edition of the UEFA Cup. In July 2011, after four seasons with Saint-Étienne, Matuidi transferred to Paris Saint-Germain on a three-year deal — where he won 16 domestic honors, including four consecutive Ligue 1 titles. In the French capital, he also met a teammate who would alter the course of his life forever: David Beckham.

The two played for Paris Saint-Germain during the 2013-2014 season. It would be another five years before Beckham would be awarded the MLS’ 25th franchise, and another seven before he would convince Matuidi to come to America. In the interim, Blaise took home a French Player of the Year trophy in 2015; joined Italian side Juventus, where he won a domestic double in his first season, followed by two more consecutive league titles over the next two seasons; won the Globe Soccer Awards Player Career Award, Chevalier of the Legion of Honor and Supercoppa Italiana — all in 2018; and, of course, captured his greatest honor: a winner’s medal at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

We sat down with Matuidi to chat about his first season playing ball in the Magic City, what we can expect for his second, his relationship with David Beckham and why nothing — including Covid-19 — can bring him down.

Blaise Matuidi
Watch: Hublot

Photo Credit: Nick Garcia

So your first season with Miami is over. What was the experience like? Did you enjoy it?
My first season with Inter Miami CF was a great experience. I feel very happy because I came here to do something special with the team. For the team only being in its first year, we came close to the playoffs. I came here to win. I’ve won a lot in my career, but to win in MLS will be very special for me.

What attracted you to playing in the States?
I’ve played in a lot of big games in my career, but I wanted a new experience, a new feeling. To come to America was a dream I’ve had since I was young. I am not here for a vacation; I’m here to pursue my passion, to play soccer. I am a champion, and when a champion goes somewhere, he goes there to win.

Did David Beckham lure you? If so, how?
For me, it’s an honor to play for David Beckham. He’s had a great career in and outside the pitch. For me, it was special when he came to me and said, “You need to play for my team.” And he’s very present for the team.

So he was influential in your decision to come to America?
The project and David made my decision. I had the possibility to stay in Italy. I was in one of the biggest clubs in Europe, Juventus F.C., but when there was this opportunity, I felt like I couldn’t pass it up. Like I said, it’s been a dream since I was young to finish my soccer career in MLS, so I’m happy I made this decision.

What are the challenges in playing in America?
The challenge of playing in America is to win a new trophy. To win in America, for me, will be special. After my career ends, I can tell my kids that I’ve won everywhere!

Blaise Matuidi
Watch: Ulysse Nardin

Photo Credit: Nick Garcia

Soccer is easily the biggest sport in the world outside the States, where baseball and American football are considered the national pastimes. Do you seek to change that?
It’s important to me to raise awareness in America. I want everybody in the world to know that Inter Miami CF is a big club in America and that MLS is important. When you’re here, many people talk about the NFL and NBA, but in Miami, MLS is something special, because there are a lot of soccer fans. We want them to know that soccer is also a very good sport and want to push it up the ranks in America.

What do you love most about your new home of Miami?
I love living in Miami. The weather is so nice; it’s fantastic. My family is very happy to be here. I came also for that: for my family to be happy. It’s a new experience for them, and for me, to speak English. We hope to stay here for a long time. There’s a lot to do here. We love the beach; we go all the time. There’s also good food! I only have good things to say about this city.

Do you miss France?
I miss my family and, particularly, my parents. With coronavirus, it’s been difficult for them to come here. When you’re far away from your family, sometimes you have difficult moments. I started playing soccer in an academy at the age of 13, and I was far from them then; it’s always been like that. I make sacrifices for my passion.

How do you bring a little bit of France, a little savoir faire, to Miami?
My passion for having breakfast with a baguette and a chocolate croissant is my culture of winning.

What places in the city remind you most of home?
Komodo and Serafina remind me most of home, as I love sushi and Italian food.

Do you love to live in a luxurious way? What are some of your favorite luxuries?
I like fashion and cars, and my son does too. He’s 5 years old and talks about Bugatti all the time. He started the game, and he started early! I like Ferrari, Porsche…I have an electric Porsche now. Generally, I like watches and other jewelry. The most important thing is to dress well. I spent three years in Italy, and you have to dress well in Italy. Dior and Givenchy are my favorite brands.

Blaise Matuidi
Watch: Hublot

Photo Credit: Nick Garcia

You come from one of the best wine regions in the world. Is wine important to you? What brand is a special treat?
I can’t say I love wine, because as a soccer player, I can’t drink a lot. However, sometimes it feels good to have a glass of good wine.

You had Covid. What was the experience like? Do you feel stronger than ever now?
It was a very bad moment, because I didn’t know what COVID-19 was. I was lucky because I didn’t have any symptoms. It was difficult because I was living in an apartment in Torino, and I had to stay home for two months; I couldn’t go outside even for a little bit. It was a very hard time for me and my family, but it’s behind us now.

How do you feel now?
I feel good, as I had the virus [earlier this year]. I hope everything is behind me.

It must be hard to be in the U.S. now and not be able to explore it.
I’ll be in America for a long time, so I’ll have time to explore everything. I love this country. I came every year for the last six years; twice to Miami. Don’t worry, when we’re able to, I’ll be traveling for sure.

Also, I hear you’re going to be a dad again. What is the most important thing you’re teaching your children?
I teach them to be respectful toward themselves and others and teach them the meaning of humility as well.

What are five surprising things fans might not know about you?
Sometimes I forget things I have to do, but never forget the important things. I am a good video game player, I hate defeat, I like to cook, and I really enjoy reggaeton music.

Blaise Matuidi
Watch: Hublot

Photo Credit: Nick Garcia

What is the most luxurious item you own?
The Ferrari F12.

What’s been the greatest moment of your career thus far?
My greatest moment was when I became a World Cup champion. It was just amazing, such an incredible experience. To explain that emotion, it’s hard. It was a dream I wished for my entire life. I never thought I could do that, but I did. For all the sacrifices I made in my career, it was exceptional to win this trophy. It’s the most important trophy you can win in this sport. There are a lot of players in the world, and not too many are able to win the World Cup. I can’t say I’m lucky, because you have to push yourself to do it. It’s not just luck — it’s hard work.

When you win the World Cup, where do you go from there?
I was part of one of the best clubs in Europe, and you think to yourself, “What can I win now?” But I am a champion, and a champion wants to win every year. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t, but you always try for it. That’s why I came to Miami: to win again and again and again.

How did you celebrate when you won the World Cup?
I didn’t sleep for two or three days. I wanted to feel this moment in my body, in my head, all the time, 24 hours a day. I didn’t want to leave that. We partied with the team, with our families, and I celebrated at home in Paris. It was an amazing moment, one that I will never forget.

What to you is the greatest luxury in life and why?
My kids, for sure. They are my life. I do everything for them. When I wake up and see them smiling at me, it makes me happy every time.

 Blaise MatuidiPhoto Credit: Nick Garcia