Philadelphia Union winger Fabian Herbers had a passion for soccer growing up in Ahaus, Germany. While overseas, Herbers watched many players, but there was one in particular that stood out to the No. 6 overall pick in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft.
For Herbers, it was French footballer Zinedine Zidane that caught his eye. It should come as no surprise that the platform Zidane was on that grabbed the attention of Herbers was the sport’s biggest stage.
“One specific game was the quarterfinals of the World Cup. It was in the 2006 Quarterfinals where he was playing for France and they were playing Brazil,” Herbers said. He just dominated the Brazilian squad and almost won the game by himself. That was the game where he really stood out to me.”
The ability to take his game to the next level when the spotlight was the brightest was impressive to Herbers. It wasn’t just his pure talent with his feet either, it was the intangibles Zidane had that separated himself from the pack. Herbers explained what specifically he liked about the Frenchman’s game.
“It was because of his composure on the ball. He always knew where his opponent was, he always knew where the next ball needed to go. He’s just a leader on the field, and managed his team very well,” Herbers said. “Now as a coach too at Real Madrid he’s doing a very good job with two Champions League Titles. I really liked his style of play.”
You can see the qualities that Zidane had in Herbers’ eyes translate on the pitch for Herbers in the Union. In his rookie season Herbers led the Union with seven assists during the 2016 campaign, displaying that awareness on the ball that he saw from Zidane. Those seven assists from Herbers were the most by any rookie in MLS in 2016.
As the season rolls along, Herbers will look to continue to use that instinct on the pitch that he witnessed from Zidane and find ways to notch more assists to his name. Herbers next opportunity will come on March 31 when the Union head to Colorado to take on the Rapids.