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Tajouri-Shradi is talking from New York to “Favoriten”

In January 2018, Ismael Tajouri-Shradi exchanged “Favoriten” for New York City. He is still keeping his fingers crossed for Austria Wien, for which he played eleven years including for the rookies and amateurs. The 26-year-old tells how he experiences New York during the corona crisis and how the MLS clubs deal with the virus. “Isi” hopes that people will appreciate simple things again after the crisis.

Tajouri-Shradi already knew that Austria Wien started small-group trainings on Wednesday and that all players and coaches had previously been tested negative for Corona, ‘I read everything online, I'm still following Austria Wien very closely,’ says the long-time “Violet”, he started at the age of ten, played his way up to the A-team, had highlights with Austria Wien in 2016/17 and 2017/18 in the UEFA Europa League.

A few months ago, the 26-year-old travelled to Vienna and wanted to watch an Austria Wien game in the new stadium for the first time. The call to the Libyan national team changed his plan. ‘I was very happy about the invitation; I hope that I can visit soon. Whenever I can, I watch the Austria Wien games live online from New York. I keep my fingers crossed for Austria Wien during every game,’ says Tajouri-Shradi.

New York City, the city that never (temporarily) sleeps

His new home in New York has grown on him since he moved in 2018. ‘The city has so much energy, people are always in a good mood and smile, I love that very much. In the current situation it looks a little different, it is very quiet in the city. People are worried - many have lost their jobs - they seem anxious, but they keep their distance and take care of each other,’ says the 26-year-old.

Masks have recently become mandatory in the supermarkets in New York, mouth and nose have to be covered, but no masks are distributed at the entrances, ‘The first time I was just sent home, you can't get in anywhere without a mask, but everyone tries to make the best of the situation.’

Yankee Stadium & City training are still off limits

“Isi” hopes that what used to be taken for granted will be valued again after the crisis, ‘It is not a good time for most people around the world, but I believe that we will appreciate all the things we usually do even more after things have settled down: just being able to go out, meet people and have fun.’

Tajouri-Shradi last enjoyed playing football on his home pitch at the Yankee Stadium on March 12th, when he played the first leg in the quarter-final of the Concacaf Champions League against Mexican club Tigres UANL with his New York City club. The MLS (Major League Soccer), which normally runs from March to November, has since been interrupted after two match days. A shortened season is now an option. Small group trainings like in Austria are not yet possible in the US.

Everyday life: by car only 15 minutes from Manhattan

Meanwhile, the Libyan national team player keeps fit in his apartment in Fort Lee, New Jersey, near the George Washington Bridge, 15 to 20 minutes' drive from Manhattan. He only leaves the apartment for shopping & running in the park. New York City FC mailed its players an extensive home workout package with dumbbells, medicine balls, and Thera ribbons.

‘It's actually going quite well; I keep fit. The whole team trains together three times a week via Zoom: We just had a kickboxing session,’ says Ismael Tajouri-Shradi, who has always been one of the fittest players at Austria Wien and found a love for cooking during the corona crisis:

‘Cooking is very high on my daily schedule. I never actually thought that I would have so much fun cooking, it’s going very well, I cook almost every day and have already managed to make some delicious dishes. I know that the Austria Wien players are very happy about the small group trainings, it will take a little longer for us, the US is behind with the exit restrictions.’