With experience on some of soccer’s biggest stages, Edson Braafheid is happy to share his wisdom with his Bold FC teammates.
There are a lot of experienced players in the USL Championship, but not every veteran can be a leader for the young players on their team. Some don’t have the temperament for it and some don’t have the resume to command the needed respect. With an appearance in the 2010 World Cup Final and experience playing for Bayern Munich and Lazio in top European leagues, Austin Bold defender Edson Braafheid embraces his role as a leader in the locker room.
Braafheid hails from Suriname, a small country in South America, before moving to the Netherlands when he was six years old. “Suriname is a very diverse country where they have the Christian church, mosque, and the synagogue next to each other in the same street,” Braafheid told BGN. He noted some of the great players with roots in his native country like Ruud Gullit, Frank Rijkaard, Clarence Seedorf, Edgar Davids, Patrick Kluivert, Georginio Wijnaldum, and Virgil van Dijk. Edson puts himself “somewhere at the bottom of that list.”
He would feature for the Dutch national team like a lot of those legends he mentioned above, culminating in an appearance in the 2010 World Cup final against Germany. “Coming into the biggest football game of the world and knowing that at least 90% of the world is watching, I can only say one word “WOW!!!”. I was super nervous but super excited at the same time,” he recalled. “Never thought in a million years I would be playing on a stage that big.”
Just like his international career, Edson’s club career took him to great heights on the soccer landscape. He played for big clubs like Bayern Munich, Celtic, Hoffenheim, Lazio, and more. With that journey, he’s also played with some high-level players. But, he credits a player from his native country for being one of his biggest influences as a player. “I always looked up to Edgar Davids. Before I start playing defense, I was playing midfield like Davids because of his passion for the game,” he said. “I started to follow his game, always playing to win with his whole heart. Beside his amazing talent, he had this drive to win every battle.”
Now, he gets to use those lessons learned to help guide his younger teammates with Bold FC. “In most cases, I’m talking about being patient and try to explain to take it training by training. Game by game,” Braafheid said about what he tries to teach his teammates. “Don’t look further than the next training, don’t look further than the next game.”
The 36-year-old is back in Austin, where he enjoys the genuinely friendly people, after playing in less than 15 matches with the club last season. Speaking about the 2020 season, Edson said, “It’s like every other year. Beginning of the preseason, I’m super excited to challenge myself and compete with the young lions. Every year is special because you get stronger and smarter. Now you have to find a way to bring that into your game. A big plus is that we kept most of the guys together from last season, so that will make it easier to build on.”
Bold FC starts its second season on March 7th when they host New Mexico United at Bold Stadium.
Top photo courtesy of Matt Bradford.