Tyler Boyd has an impressive record. He has played for Waikato FC, New Zealand under 20’s, the Wellington Phoenix, the All Whites and in the European Champions League.
He talks to us about the challenges of being on the other side of the world, competing at the highest level and keeping his eyes, not just on the ball, but on Christ!
So, Tyler, when did you first realise that you were good enough to play professionally?
“Since I was three years old I ‘believed’ I could be a football player. But I grew up in America for the first 10 years of my life and never watched football on TV as a kid. It was just me with a ball.
Football wasn’t as popular as basketball, baseball and American football but I just always loved football. When I was 4yrs old I told my parents I was going to be a professional footballer. I’m not sure they believed me then but that’s all I wanted to do. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.”
“I think it was when I was 13 or 14 and I was training every day, it hit me and I honestly believed that with the support around me and with God’s help I could be a professional. I didn’t have doubts. I believed. I had faith.”
…I honestly believed that with the support around me and with God’s help I could be a professional.
What’s the difference between rugby players and football players?
“I think both are great sports. but seeing as I spent the first 10 years in America, rugby wasn’t really an option. That’s a hard one. I could offend so many people whatever I say so I think I’ll just leave it there (smiles).”
What position did you play when you first started kicking a ball?
“Oh, all over the field. Dad played me everywhere except goal.
But every coach that ever got hold of me would play me up front but I didn’t really care as long as I was playing football.”
A little bird tells us your mum and dad are your biggest fans. Explain the impact they’ve had on your life and career?
“Huge. I wouldn’t be where I am without them. They took me to training; just being there for me, showing up to every game as a youngster, and being my inspiration. I owe them a lot.
I’m still at the beginning of my career and there’s much more work to be done but I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing if it wasn’t for my mum and dad, that’s for sure.
And along with my parents I have to mention my academy coach, Declan Edge and my agent Vlado Bozinoski. They’ve both been huge a huge part of my life “
As well as other footballers, who else do you look up to as examples in life?
“Definitely my parents. I was born and raised in a Christian home so that’s where I get my morals from – my ethics. You could even say work ethic and desire to succeed.
My role models were my parents and, yeah, some other footballers; David Beckham, Cristiano Ronaldo in his later years.
Also Stephan Curry. He’s been a huge encouragement. He’s a solid Christian and he leads by example. He plays for God and he’s not ashamed of his faith. He puts it out there on the table and I think it’s amazing what he’s doing.”
So you mention your faith and growing up in a Christian home, how has your faith remained strong in such a crazy and demanding sport with all the pressure?
“I think the more pressure there is and especially during the hard times, the stronger my faith in God has been. These last few years it’s been hard. I’ve been away from New Zealand and haven’t had my family near me or my friends so I’ve had to rely on God and he’s been my stronghold, my rock.
When I have worries or anxieties I can just give them to him and then I can relax again. I start every day with him and I’m usually as happy as can be. It’s been hard at times but that’s what’s made my faith stronger too.”
What advice would you give to young Christians that are thinking about becoming professional footballers?
“Love what you do. Love the game. For me it was all about hard work, dedication and I also had faith that it would happen. I believed that if God wanted it to happen then he would put me there and surround me with the right people in my life for it to happen. I pray this a lot; I came into the world with nothing. I brought nothing into the world. God gave me the talent. He gave me these parents and the people around me. If God wants it to happen, and if you’re prepared to work hard, then it will happen.”
Talk us through how you handled the excitement and emotion when the opportunity came for your dream move to play in Europe?
“In Ecclesiastes 9:10 it basically says there’s ‘No work when you’re dead’ so I want to work hard! I never wanted to be mediocre. I always wanted to do my best – always striving, working harder!
I want to give 100%. I know it says in Colossians ‘Whatever you do you should work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord’. Well if you’re doing something for God you wouldn’t give 80%, so no matter what I’m doing I want to be giving 100% because I should be working for Him. You should always give your best every time.
If I have a bad attitude about something or I really don’t want to go to training then I remind myself ‘Who am I working for?’”
I want to give 100%. I know it says in Colossians ‘Whatever you do you should work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord’.
What was your first impression of Vitoria Guamaeres? (Gee-mah-range)
“Great club. Very passionate. The fans are amazing. They threw flares, shouted and cheered.
It was really amazing and I am proud to play for them. The city is beautiful too. There’s a bunch of castles around so it’s very different to New Zealand.”
Dedication is really important in football. What has been the hardest thing you’ve had to sacrifice?
“Sacrifice? Hmm, probably just being away from home. Since I was 17 I’ve been out of the house, on my own but now I’m literally on the other side of the world! It was a 40 hour trip to get back to NZ all in, so it’s a long way away.
That’s been the hardest thing – just being away from friends and family.”
Best goal ever?
“Um, well a couple of seasons ago I actually scored a bicycle kick while playing for Vitoria reserves not long after I arrived in Portugal. That was probably my best goal ever.
But probably the best goal I’ve ever seen was [David] Beckham’s goal for England against Greece that sent them to the World cup. I think it was 2001. It was a great goal but the pressure must have been insane. He just took his time and placed it perfectly in the top corner.”
Soccer has changed a lot and kids see everything on the TV. What do you think about the swearing, diving and ref abuse that has crept in to the professional game?
“Yeah, I think it’s important to be as honest as you can. You see a player like [Messi] and he’s one of the best in the world but he stays on his feet even when people kick him and push him because he’s an honest guy. It’s important to be honest in everything you do.”
Are we allowed to ask what your dream club (to play for) would be?
“I think Barcelona! They’ve been so successful and I think that’s down to the mentality they have. They’re such a tight knit crew. The football they play is always beautiful.”
If you had a week off and could go anywhere and do anything, what would you do?
“That’s easy. I’d go home. New Zealand. It’s so far away so I’d take any chance to go back.”
What would you do if you weren’t a soccer player?
“That’s such a hard question. It shows how much I always wanted to be a footballer!
Maybe something with fitness. Or I’d work with my dad as his apprentice. He’s a horse chiropractor so I’d ask him to teach me!”
Have you made any good friends since you joined the club in Portugal?
“There’s one guy called Joseph – he’s from Ghana. I ended up living with him which has been awesome. He’s a solid Christian so we can keep each other accountable and do some study together, pray together. It’s like in Proverbs 27:7 it talks about ‘iron sharpening iron’ so it’s really good to have someone sharpening me.”
In June this year you moved to Tondela on loan. How was that and what have been the highs and lows so far?
“It’s a great club full of amazing people. I’ve enjoyed the challenge so far of playing in the first division. The only low about my time here has been being away from the people in Guimarães. I’ve created some good relationships there and it’s a couple hours away so I don’t see them often.”
You’ve been in Portugal for 2 years now. Have you mastered the language?
“Yeah I can understand everything that is spoken to me and I can also speak well. I learned the language by myself so my grammar in Portuguese isn’t perfect yet, but I can have a full conversation without any difficulties.”
What do you miss most about New Zealand?
“New Zealand is so beautiful and there are a lot of things that I miss, but I miss my family and friends the most.”
Ty – thanks so much for doing this article for the first ever edition of ‘Authentic’. If we send you a few copies of the mag will you give it to your teammates? (we will check)
“I sure will.”
This interview was originally published in Authentic Magazine in 2015.
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About the author
Dave Firth is a husband, father, Bible teacher and communicator. He loves the Lord and has a passion for His Word. For more info and free-to-use-Bible study tools visit www.davefirth.org
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