CONCACAF Q&A: Atiba Harris (FC Dallas)
FC Dallas defender Atiba Harris has been among the standout players in the 2016/17 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League, scoring two goals in six games. Last year, the 32-year-old – a former St. Kitts & Nevis international, who also played in Spain — captured US Open Cup and MLS regular-season titles. With FCD looking ahead to next week’s SCCL semifinal, second-leg encounter, he took some time to speak to CONCACAF.com.
How old were you when you first started to play football?
I’m pretty sure that I started to play football as soon as I was able to walk because my father Baza and everyone played the beautiful game in my community in St. Peter’s, St. Kitts.
Growing up did you have a favorite player that you looked up to?
Yes, my favourite player and role model growing up was and still is Keith “Kayamba” Gumbs.
Throughout your career, you have played in Spain, USA and Canada. How do you compare the football you played in Spain to MLS?
The quality of training and games in Spain were a lot higher than MLS in terms of pace and technical ability when I first came to the league. But I think that this gap has gotten closer because of major investment in youth development in MLS, while also bringing in top young talents. I think FC Dallas is doing an amazing job in shaping the future of professional football in North America.
You won the US Open Cup in 2016 with FC Dallas. Where does this rank up in your memories and accomplishments?
This is obviously a great accomplishment for me because as a professional and a competitor, you want to be able to win trophies, and this was my 1st major trophy as a professional footballer. Credit to my teammates and staff at FC Dallas for all their hard work and dedication.
You played 60 times for St. Kitts & Nevis, which has made huge strides in the FIFA World Rankings. What have been the reasons for such great improvement…hard work…good coaching?
St. Kitts & Nevis have always had the talent without a doubt. It’s a combination of both. Jacques Passy and his staff have done an incredible job in getting us quality games and preparing us well for these games with the backing of the SKNFA (St. Kitts & Nevis Football Association). If you also look at the current set of players — guys like Devaughn Elliott, Julani Archibald Gerard Williams and Javeim Blanchette — these are guys who were a part of a development process over a decade ago by former technical director Lenny Taylor, so credit to him as well for his part. Then you have a guy like Romaine Sawyers, who is pure quality and will be very important for the country going forward.
You are the cousin to of Manchester City player Micah Richards. Did you ever speak to him about maybe representing Sugar Boyz in the past?
We’ve had this conversation a few times in the past and I can tell you that he’s very proud of his Kittitian and Nevisian roots. It would have been great to have a player of his quality with our national setup.
What advice do you have for young people who want to play football professionally?
To make it professionally requires a lot of hard work and dedication. Put in the work on and off the field and the game reward you.
Outside of football, what do you like to do for fun?
Outside of football, I spend quality time with my family.