It’s not often you meet your hero face to face. Western Sydney Wanderers winger Jaushua Sotirio, however, is one of the lucky ones, thanks to his French background.
Sotirio, 21, is one of Australia’s rising stars, having debuted as an 18-year-old for Wanderers in late 2013.
More recently, he has been one of the key players in Josep Gombau’s national U23 side’s recent qualification for the AFC U23 Championships in China next January.
The fast, tricky wide striker is also expected to start regularly this season as part of a front three for the Wanderers in their new, Spanish flavoured attack alongside new signings Oriol Riera and Álvaro Cejudo.
Add a little French to that mix now with Sotirio, who speaks fluent French as a result of his heritage with both his parents born in New Caledonia (though he was born in Australia).
And it was this family connection that enabled Sotirio to meet one of the greatest footballers on the planet around a decade ago, as the Wanderers winger explained.
“I’m really into French football. I watch a lot of French football, though I watch all football to be honest.
“French football interests me,” Sotirio told www.a-league.com.au at the launch of Wanderers’ new kit.
“He [Zinedine Zidane] has French background and I’m French background as well.
“I’ve always grown up watching his videos,” he said of Zidane, now 45 and the current Real Madrid manager who is generally regarded as one of the greatest players of the modern era.
“I look at him and he’s like a real role model to me. Very inspiring. He’s been the most inspirational for me.
“Best player in the world… met him as well!”
How Sotirio met the great Frenchman turned out to be a missed moment of sorts.
“I met him at an exhibition game in New Caledonia. And that’s where I’m from. [French] it’s my background.
“I had an Uncle that’s friends with him [Zidane]. My uncle played for the New Caledonia national team as a goalkeeper.
“So just went into the changing rooms and I was prepared to have a nice talk with him [Zidane].
“But when I saw him I just froze!
“I got star struck. It was a great moment for me though. I took a photograph with him.
“It was a moment I’ll never forget. It was amazing to meet him.”