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West Ham’s Winston Reid Exclusive Part Two: Winston was a Danish sizzler but his heart was with the Maoris

Winston Reid for New Zealand Winston Reid for New Zealand

Thursday, January 31, 2013
11:45 AM

West Ham defender Winston Reid chats to Dave Evans about his life and times

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Winston Reid is the current New Zealand footballer of the year, but despite being only 24, it has been a winding road for the West Ham player to reach that accolade.

“I don’t think that age matters really,” he insisted. “It is just how quick you are in your head and how quickly you adapt to the game.”

Reid certainly knows how to adapt. He left New Zealand at the age of 11 to go to the other side of the world and set up home in Denmark, but in both countries it was sport that was his first love.

“I’ve played football since I was about four, but I also played other sports in New Zealand, but rugby was the main sport,” he recalled.

“Football was always my number one game though, I was rubbish at rugby, I was too small!”

There was no rugby in Denmark for the young Reid and it was tough to adapt. “The fact is when you are 11 it is difficult to move across the other side of the world, away from your friends and family.

“But that is how it is in life, you have to put yourself out there and into uncomfortable positions to reap the benefits. That is what I did and I was happy with the way it turned out,” said the fluent Danish speaker.

Reid played for Denmark under-18s, under-19s and under-21s, but when it came to a senior team, there was little doubt in his mind.

“I had played for Denmark under-21s which was fine for me because I didn’t have to travel as much and I was happy doing that, but I always felt that I wanted to go home and play for New Zealand,” he explained.

“Then the more I thought about it, who I was and where I came from, the more I felt that I was a Kiwi. I have been fortunate to play for two countries and there are not a lot of people who get to do that.

“But I just felt the need to go back home and play for them. All my family is from there, both my parents are from New Zealand and I go back there every summer because a lot of my friends are back there as well.”

Reid is also of Maori origin and that is another reason why he opted to play for the All-Whites.

“It did play a part,” he admitted.

“There aren’t many Maoris playing in the national team, maybe two or three, so I would like to help out the football situation down there and give something back to the kids when I am done in the game.

“I just thought that I could probably give more to New Zealand than I could do to Denmark.”

It has worked, Reid is a familiar face back home, though not on the same scale as their rugby stars.

“I do get recognised, but I don’t mind being under the radar, I am pretty chilled out,” he said.

“The rugby players are more well-known because it is a mad rugby nation. Some of the world’s best players are down there. I was keen on rugby when I was growing up, but now personally I find it a bit boring – I like Rugby League a lot better. I probably shouldn’t say that!”

He will no doubt get away with it. If Reid has proved anything in his life, it is that he can definitely look after himself.

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