News: Get to know: Zaki Oualah

Programme Editor Graham Mitchell wrote a peice recently for the programme against Carshalton and here it is for those who missed it:

I recently caught up with our popular goalkeeper Zaki Oualah. The 23 year old recently returned to the Tanners on dual registration from Aldershot Town. Previous clubs include Merstham, Godalming, Aylesbury and Farnborough with whom he gained promotion from the Evo-Stik Southern Central Division in 2016/17. Zaki made his debut for the Tanners on the opening day of last season and was an integral part of the Tanners squad that reached the second round proper of the FA Cup before being surprisingly released in February. To the delight of the Green Army he returned to the Grove in September.

Zaki: I didn’t want to leave last season so I am very happy to be back. I really enjoyed my time here last season and am enjoying myself even more so this year with Nikki in charge as he is not just a good manager but a top bloke also.

Graham: What are your personal ambitions for your time with the Tanners?

Zaki I feel this season the league is a lot more balanced than last year so there is no reason why we shouldn’t be able to get into the play offs. If we can get some consistency I'm sure we will be up there come the end of the season.

Graham: Who were your childhood heroes?

Zaki: I have always been a big fan of Pepe Reina and Adam Federici as I grew up watching Reading and supporting Liverpool.

Graham: How do you deal with opposition supporters behind the goal?

Zaki: Usually I like to give them a bit of banter back but it doesn’t really bother me. I don’t take anything said personally as its all banter and they are just trying to put me off to help their team. I wouldn’t really say I can recall a really funny insult to be honest but most of the time it’s about my pink kit or about my height. Usually the same rubbish said so could do with some new banter!

Graham: Aside from football what are your main interests?

Zaki: I don’t have many interests outside football, during the week I'm training at AFC Wimbledon or Aldershot in the mornings, other than that I spend a lot of time in the gym, reading and practising French.

Graham: Why did you become a goalkeeper?

Zaki:The reason I became a goalkeeper is because when I was younger I used to play football down the park with lads who were a lot older than me so they would never pass me the ball. I went in goal to be a bit more involved and I was saving shots and really enjoyed it so it stuck.

Graham: You’re hosting a dinner party this weekend. Which three celebrities are invited, and why?

Zaki: First person I would invite is Eric Thomas the motivational speaker, I would love to speak to him about my routine and how he could help. Secondly, I would invite Arnold Schwarzenegger as the guy is an absolute legend, if you know his life story you would think the same! My third guest would be Margot Robbie because she is a worldie!

Graham: What has been the highlight of your football career to date?

Zaki: The highlight of my football career has to be last season here when we made it to the second round of the FA cup! Some memories and feelings I will never forget. Also winning the play off final and getting promoted with Farnborough the season before was a great moment.

Graham: Do you have any pre-match rituals or superstitions?

Zaki: I start the morning as usual with my daily routine of praying, meditating and visualising, then when I get to the ground I like to foam roll and listen to music to get ready.

Graham: Do you have a nickname?

Zaki: Don’t have a nickname although everyone calls me Zak. My name is actually pronounced Zecki not how it is spelt as Zaki!

Graham: Who has been the biggest influence on your playing career to date?

Zaki: It would have to go to two people. Hollis Boisson who was my first ever goalkeeper coach when I was 13 who I still train with regularly now has been huge in my career and in my life. Also Colin Barnes who I have been training with since I was 14 has been massive in my development. Both are like father figures to me.

Graham: If you were stuck on a desert island which teammate would you take and why?

Zaki: I would probably take Jerry with me as a body guard, he is massive so he could fight off any wildlife.

Graham: Where do you live and what do you do as a day job?

Zaki: I currently live in Reading which is about an hour drive from Leatherhead. During the day I train with Wimbledon or Aldershot. On a Monday night I have my own goalkeeper academy which I coach at and also do 1-1 sessions for goalkeepers.

Graham: What music do you enjoy listening to before a match?

Zaki: I can listen to different types of music before a match depending on my mood but usually its rap or R&B.

Graham: If your life was turned into a movie, which actor would play you?

Zaki: I will go with Mark Walhberg.

Graham: What is your footballing ambition?

Zaki: To play top flight football where ever that is and to play for Algeria national team in the World Cup.

Graham: Which team do you support?

Zaki: Liverpool but I'm not as interested as when I was younger.

Graham: What is your favourite movie and why?

Zaki: Favourite movie has to be Step Brothers (US comedy starring Will Ferrell). It’s a classic and always makes me laugh no matter how many times I watch it.

Graham: Finally, do you have a message for the Leatherhead supporters?

Zaki: My message to the supporters is thank you for all your support and encouragement it does make a difference! Hope you all enjoy the game today!

Many thanks to Zaki for taking the time to answer these questions