Exclusive Interview with Elmont native and Wilmington Hammerheads defender Yahaya Musa

by David Harris

Photo provided by the Wilmington Hammerheads

Elmont native Yahaya Musa has been one of the best players to come out of Long Island in recent years. From youth and high school soccer with Elmont, to college soccer with Stony Brook, the Rough Riders and other PDL teams, NY Greek Americans, and now back to the professional game with Wilmington, Yahaya has accomplished a tremendous amount as a player. Still only 27, Yahaya has some great years ahead of him, hopefully in the professional game with Wilmington and perhaps beyond. Recently, Yahaya took the time to catch up with me about all that he has accomplished thus far in soccer.

SLIM: What are your thoughts on getting the opportunity to resign with Wilmington?

YM: I feel fortunate that the club chose to resign me for the 2014 season. The fact that I will be playing in Wilmington, in front of great fans only makes the deal sweeter. I intend to make the most of this opportunity and continue to raise my level.

SLIM: You had a very successful season with Wilmington in 2012. Why didn't you resign with them for 2013?

YM: Yes, we were successful in 2012. Although we lost in the final, that season was the highlight of my professional career thus far. 2013 was a tough year for me personally. As a result, I took a risk not playing professionally for a year, to focus on other priorities.

SLIM: What have you enjoyed about playing with the NY Greek Americans in the Cosmopolitan League? What are your thoughts about the competition level considering that you have played professionally?

YM: What I've enjoyed most about playing with the Greeks is the passion shown from the owners and the coaches. Also, the level of play in the Cosmopolitan League is quite impressive, as is the talent on the Greek Americans. A few players in the league are ex and current pros, so it's pretty competitive.

SLIM: What was your overall experience like when you played in the Puerto Rican League with Academia Quintana, Sevilla FC Puerto Rico and Bayamón FC?

YM: Playing and living in Puerto Rico was a pleasure and one of the best experiences of my life. My first team was Academia Quintana, it was the first time I signed a contract to play soccer. I was fortunate enough to win the league with Bayamon F.C. in 2009.

SLIM: What are some of your fondest memories from your college career playing with Stony Brook?

YM: Getting into college was a bit rough so my first fond memory was getting accepted, thanks to my coach Cesar Markovic. Another memory is struggling with my teammates in preseason. Although it wasn't fond then, we laugh about it today. Finally, winning the Conference Championship in 2005, especially because it was the first time I could call myself a champion.

SLIM: How did playing with Fort Wayne Fever, Long Island Rough Riders and Kalamazoo Outrage in the USL PDL complement the college soccer you were playing at Stony Brook and help your development as a player?

YM: All three of those teams were soccer playing teams. Because of that, I was able to learn the game properly. Playing for all 3 teams also kept me fit and playing through the summer in preparation for Stony Brook.

SLIM: Going back to youth soccer on Long Island, what are some of your fondest memories of playing high school soccer at Elmont and club soccer?

YM: My high school career was memorable because of my late coach Mr. Petrocelli. He got the best out of everyone and he certainly taught me to give everything, every time. Due to his guidance, I went on to play at Stony Brook.
Playing club soccer in Elmont was so much fun. My first organized soccer team was Elmont Roots Radics. We had three great coaches who taught us to love the game, sacrificing time, effort and money for the team.

SLIM: Which clubs have you been coaching youth soccer with recently and what have you been able to bring to your coaching work from your experiences as a player?

YM: I coached at Massapequa and other clubs on LI, but most recently North Shore Soccer Club. Due to my experiences as a player, I am able to relate to the kids a little more when I coach them. I am able to tell and show them what it takes to improve as a player. For the most part however, I realize I am in a position to help shape their minds both on and off the field, and I take pride in that.

SLIM: What do you think about soccer on Long Island in terms of the good aspects and the areas where it can be improved?

YM: I am proud to be a soccer player from LI. I think LI has plenty to offer, from pre-k to the college level. Of course, there might be a few problems politically, but as for player development, I think LI is great.

SLIM: Going forward, what are you looking to accomplish in soccer?

YM: My main goals are to continue to improve and reach my highest level, whether that be the NASL, MLS or a foreign team.

SLIM: What advice would you give to a young person who is interested in playing the game and wants to become a better player?

YM: My advice is to be a student of the game and be confident in your abilities. There is always something to learn and soccer is always changing. It's important to take care of your body, stay fit and always work on weaknesses.

Follow Yahaya Musa on Twitter @musa2086