Adam Maher was on the radar of big clubs for years now. But the youngster decided to stick with AZ. He dazzles clubs every week and two weeks back he showed Pirlo and De Rossi what he can do too.
The midfielder is probably playing his last season in the AZ jersey. Ajax or PSV is the next station. “The bigger competitions will have to wait. I’m not ready to leave Holland yet.”
The story of a focused lad, who adores his parents.
“If I ever go abroad then my parents will come with me.”
Till death do them part, they will stay together, father Ider, mother Latifa and son Adam Maher. They still live in an apartment in Diemen, but soon they will move to the house Adam bought for the three of them. If everything goes well, they will to stay together for the rest of their lives.
Father Ider Maher: “I come from a place called Tinghir, situated in the south of Marocco. When I became 20, I moved from Morocco to France, but after a few months I moved on towards the Netherlands. That was in 1970. I lived with a friend in the Beilmer and was able to get a job with “Luycks Tafelzuren”, a factory in Diemen, where we produced mustard’s, different oils, pickles and mayonnaise. I even lived for a short time next to the factory. On Saturday we got Dutch language lessons, but in the evening hours I took extra lessons. The language was the most difficult. I understood little of this new society, did not read any papers, did not watch Dutch television and did not understand people on the street. It was some kind of jungle for me. Many Moroccans came with the idea of working in the Netherlands, making money and going back. I never had that idea. I just went with where life took me. In Morocco there was very little opportunity to work. That’s why I stayed here, to make something from my life. 10 years later I married with Latifa, who lived 50 kilometers from Tinghir.”
Mother Latifa Maher: “December 1980 I saw Ider for the first time, on the day we married. After the marriage I went with him to Diemen. It was tough at first, I had a lot of adjusting to do. That took a year. Then I got a job in a hotel and luckily Ider knew the way in society. Unfortunately there is no family from us over here, only friends and acquaintances.”
Adam Maher: “Until I was 16 I went every year to “our” second house in Tinghir. The last 3 years unfortunately I wasn’t able to go anymore as a result of short vacation periods in football. That won’t change the next 2 years hopefully. If we don’t have long vacations, we always go to our third house in Rabat, which takes far less traveling hours. It is always a pleasure to go to Morocco. Then I am with family, beaches, always nice weather, everything tip top.”
Ider: “It sounds like a lot: 3 houses. However here in Diemen we rent an apartment and the house in Tinhir is from my father. In 1985 we bought our house in Rabat for a couple of thousands of Euro’s. As a factory worker one does not get a big salary, so a house in the Netherlands was not affordable without a mortgage. The idea to have an own house when going on vacation and where we could invite family was important for us. That way we were no trouble for anyone and at the same time did not have to sleep in a hotel.”
Adam: “Tough my father and mother lived in Diemen for over a decade, I was still born in Morocco at Julie the 20th 1993. That is what my parents wanted. I don’t know if I would do the same in case I get children. For my parents it was different, because they came to the Netherlands. I could celebrate something like that in Diemen with my parents now.”
Ider: “If everything goes well, the plan is to stay together forever. Diemen is our base, whatever happens. If Adam stops with working, he will go back to Diemen and so will we.”
Adam: “I do plan to live on my own, but for now we are happy with the three of us. If I go abroad, then they will come with me. No doubt about that. They have always supported me. However we always want to be able to come back to the neighborhood. That’s why we are busy to buy a house in Diemen.”
Ider: “We are so proud that Adam does this for us. We could never have dreamed of it.”
Ider: “When he was young he practiced 3 sports: Judo, swimming and football. I picked him up after school time and brought him everywhere for 2 years. However football was really his thing. When we put a big basket with toys in it in front of him, he always picked something round which he could kick away. When he became 4 years old, we brought him to SV Diemen. Though he was too young to play games, he was allowed to participate in training. They immediately recognized him as somebody with special talent.”
Adam: “The moment I became member of the club FC Diemen, everything in life was build around football. My parents did everything for me, brought me everywhere. My father still watches every training of me. I still don’t have a drivers license, so he brings and picks me up everywhere. If we have played in Kerkrade, they drive back with the 2 of them to Alkmaar and then we go with the 3 of us back home. In the car we recap what went right and what went wrong. My parents are critical and that only makes me better. When I went from SV Diemen to Zeeburgia it became all more serious. I got into a team with the son of Sigi Lens, now my agent, and he saw my potential immediately. I think it was then that my parents started to believe into a professional career as well. However there is a big gap between hearing compliments and becoming a professional player. It’s not something you achieve from one day to the other. I believed in myself, but I am raised with idea, that after hearing a compliment you don’t become full of yourself. My parents told me that I played a good game, but also that I was not there yet if I wanted to become a professional football player. “You are at base level and you still have to go up”.”
Latifa: “We always go to every game of Adam: home, away, abroad, always. I don’t think we ever missed 1 game of Adam.”
Ider: “When he went from Zeeburgia to the AZ youth, the intensive years came along. I brought him often as the bus of AZ did not travel on the good hours for Adam. From 7.30 AM to 10 AM I traveled between home, school and AZ before I could return home. I worked the night shift with TNT. That was a choice, as then I could be there for Adam at day time. However Adam was busy as well! When he was part of the AZ second team, he was also often a bench player for the AZ first team. Then he traveled in the weekends with the first team, to play on a Monday with the second team and there were times he did not have a free day between 3 matchdays.
However he never complains, that’s the way Adam is. We live for the happiness and future of Adam. We never got the feeling it was all too much or that he should quit, as we saw him grow and become stronger. My only thought was: As long as he has a nice future and stays away from trouble on the street. At the moment I don’t do night shift anymore at TNT, that is no longer necessary.”
Adam: “I have the names of my parents on my shoes. My mother left and my father on the right shoe. That’s not very common, as most footballers put the names of their children or wife on their shoes. I have also shoe’s with my own name and number on them, but I loved the idea to put my parents name on it. It is my way of expressing that I am so proud of them and that I accomplished all this thanks to them.”
Adam: “When I turned 15, Lyon, Inter, AC MIlan and Barcelona wanted me. I had a 4 country tournament with Oranje under 16 in Paris and there were a lot of international scouts.”
Latifa: “The scouts of Lyon came to us when we sat in the stadium and asked us if we were the parents of Adam Maher. My husband also speaks French so he did the talking. When we traveled back to the Netherlands, the scout already called back, to check if the number was correct. That was after midnight… ”
Ider: “Adam was not 16 years old and as a result of that, he had no contract with AZ. In other country’s players are allowed to sign a contract at a younger age. It happened to us for the first time and we had no idea what to say. We did not realize exactly what was happening. We gave our number and said we would think about it.”
Ider: “In the car we took the decision he would not go abroad as long as he was still too young. It is for young boys very hard to succeed in foreign country’s. He would have start to all over again, prove himself again, go to a new school and learn a new language and culture. We talked about it with football friends, but almost none of them thought it was a wise thing to let Adam move abroad. We wanted him first to become strong in the Netherlands.”
Adam: “Once we were in the Netherlands I heard from the interest and we have talked with multiple people, also the clubs. Of course it were magnificent clubs, but in the Netherlands I could develop myself in a better way and that was the most important thing. If you come to a new club, then people should come to you to introduce themselves, not the other way around. No foreign adventure we concluded and as a reward I could sign a contract with AZ when I turned 16.”
Ider: “Of course it was a lot of money those clubs offered, but his development was more important. If everything would go well, money and top clubs would come in time automatically. If you choose fame, you will run a bigger risk.”
Adam: “Last season I started out on the bench and after 7 games I became a starter. From that moment on, I always remained a starter, I was often a decisive factor, became talent of the year in the Netherlands and became part of the Dutch national team. At the end of the last season I have made an ambition statement towards the club. If a big Dutch club would come, I would like to make the step up. When journalists asked me about it, I have been open and answered their questions in a straight way. I am not someone who starts lying about his intentions. I still stand for the way I have dealt with the situation and I think I am ready for a next step.”
Ider: “We have always told Adam, whatever you choose, we support you. If you think you can make the next step, then we stand behind you. In the end, Adam is the one who has to do it.”
Adam: “I have experienced this year a lot. Also when I decided to choose for the Dutch National team. I have taken the decision with my parents and have followed my hart. It is really beautiful to represent Morocco, but representing the Netherlands is best for my development. With them you play beautiful tournaments. Apart from that, there is the possibility of top clubs doubting to take me as a result of the Africa Cup period. Not everybody in the Moroccan community agreed with that decision. Everybody had his own opinion, while I think that many people would have taken the same decision in my position. But because they were not, they could burn me to the ground.”
Ider: “We have discussed it of course, but he wanted to go for the most ambitious option. And if that is your aim, the Netherlands is the choice.”
Adam: “I am Moroccan, I have been born in Morocco, but I have lived my whole life in the Netherlands and I also think about my career.”
Latifa: “I think the same way. For me it is about his future. He had to take this decision himself. At first, the family did not understand it, but at a certain moment they accepted the decision.”
Ider: “If he does well in the Netherlands or where else in the world, they are proud as well. That decision was a difficult moment, but after that, it was over. Our close family understood the decision, but the outsiders did not. If I have a discussion with these people and I see them getting angry, I just walk away.”