It’s never too late to make good on a dream, and Los Angeles Lakers guard Steve Nash has every intention of making good on his soccer dream.
ESPN reports that Nash, who grew up playing soccer and still has deep ties within the sport, will have a tryout of sorts with Inter Milan, before the storied team opens play in the Guinness International Champions Cup tournament that’s coming to the U.S. next week. The tournament features eight club teams from around the world, with a winner to be crowned in Miami Gardens, Fla., on Aug. 7.
“It’s a dream come true to get a chance to try out, not just to try out but to take the field with Inter Milan, one of the great, storied franchises in professional sports,” Nash said in an interview with The Associated Press. “I feel like a little kid.”
Tournament officials said the tryout will take place in New Jersey, two days before Inter Milan opens its portion of the event in Indianapolis against Chelsea. And Nash expects to be feeling a fairly ramped-up level of nervousness when he laces up his cleats for that training session.
“It’s going to be a lot higher than it is playing basketball, for sure,” Nash said. “I still get nervous for basketball games from time to time. When I get out on the court, I don’t get nervous, but before. To go out there with guys that I look up to and watch play, it’s definitely going to raise the nerves. I’ll be really nervous and really excited.”
The tournament begins Saturday when AC Milan visits Valencia. Juventus and Everton meet Wednesday in another first-round game, with the other opening matchups being the Inter-Chelsea game and Real Madrid taking on the L.A. Galaxy on Thursday.
The European clubs are primarily using the event as preseason training and the matches will allow for many more substitutions than normal, as is common with exhibition matches.
“Guinness has kind of taken it to another level by making a tournament out of it,” Nash said. “There’s stakes involved. For Guinness to bring seven of the world’s biggest clubs over and play with the Galaxy, that’s phenomenal exposure for the game and it’ll help grow the game in North America.”
Nash played soccer and hockey as a child before starting his basketball career as an eighth-grader, primarily because most of his friends at the time were spending more time taking corner jumpers than corner kicks. His father, John, played professional soccer in South Africa and England, and Nash remains an avid soccer fan and is part of the ownership group for the Vancouver Whitecaps of Major League Soccer.
As far as his “real job” goes, Nash said he’s encouraged for the coming NBA season. He’s working his way back to being 100 percent physically. His first season with the Lakers was an injury-filled one, where he was limited to 50 games because of a broken left leg and a strained right hamstring.
“I’ve had a really good summer of training and rehabilitating,” Nash said. “I’m not 100 percent, but I’m pretty close. Good enough to go out there Tuesday. I’m thrilled I’ve had this time to build myself back up, and I believe I’ll have a great year.”