June 17, 2024
  • June 17, 2024
Halifax Wanderers Zachary Fernandez

Get To Know: Zachary Fernandez

By on August 21, 2023 1 1600 Views

How I met Zach Fernandez

I can’t remember the first time I had a conversation with Zach, but I do know that I’ve been keeping an eye on his young career for a while now. My first memory of taking pictures of him was during the CF Montreal preseason in 2021, when a few young Montreal players were invited to join the team. I remember that, even if all the discussions revolved around the established players, my eyes were on kids like Jonathan Sirois, Woobens Pacius, Ismael Kone and, of course, Zachary Fernandez – the young talents who wanted to prove themselves. I knew we would see them shine and it was only a matter of time.

That’s probably why I have a certain favouritism towards players from Quebec. Not only do they represent my home, but they’re also athletes you watch grow up. I have witnessed Zach decide to leave the CF Montreal structure to join AS Blainville’s. I have witnessed Zach sign his professional contract and join Halifax. I have witnessed Zach play several times and prove to the CPL fans just how talented he is. I have witnessed  Zach work hard in the off-season to make sure he is ready to pursue his dream.

Maybe favouritism isn’t the right word – maybe when you get to know the human behind the footballer, you realize they’re much more than what you see in 90 minutes, and you get attached to the person wearing the jersey. 

Halifax Wanderers Zachary Fernandez
Photo Credit: Raphael Williams-Claudio

The 20 completely random questions 

1) What made you fall in love with football? 

I’d say it started young and probably because of my mother, because she’s the one who signed me up when I was maybe four. Soccer and I found each other a little earlier, when I was maybe a year old, because I always had a ball at my feet. When my mother finally signed me up, I fell in love with it straight away, and the love has continued over the years. I also have older brothers who played for fun. 

2) You left a professional environment – the Impact Academy – to join another. What are the biggest differences you’ve noticed between the two? 

I think the biggest difference is in the facilities and everything that surrounds the professional world. In terms of level, it’s similar to what I’ve experienced, but of course the CPL being a young league, it’s still in the process of being built. I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised by the level and the organization that surrounds it. 

3) What’s the career highlight you’re most proud of so far?

The first time I was invited to the training camp with the Montreal Impact first team, in 2020. That was the year Thierry Henry was in charge of the team, and I was proud of it, because from the moment I entered the academy, that was my goal. It was my first taste of the professional world, so for me it was a big achievement.

4) What’s the greatest risk you’ve ever taken?

Probably to leave the academy. It can be seen as a risk, but in hindsight I know it was the right thing to do. Leaving a pro environment to join Blainville, the reality is that it’s a small step down in terms of coaching, and not knowing where I’d end up the following season, it can be seen as a risk. But it ended up that we played Halifax and that allowed me to sign here afterwards. 

5) You can sign in your actual team a player you’ve already played with. Tell me who it is, when you shared the pitch together and why he is your choice?

I’m going with Woobens Pacius. Firstly because he’s one of my best friends in football, as well as being an excellent player with a lot of quality. He’s a striker who knows how to score goals, and every club needs that. If I could sign a second, I’d take Cedric Toussaint. In both cases, these are players I grew up with at the academy. 

6) If you’re playing an away match and you need to share your hotel room with a teammate. With whom do you want and don’t want to share it and why? 

The one I’d like to share a room with is Aidan Daniels. He’s already my roommate for away games and we live together in Halifax too. We’re always together, he’s quiet and we get on really well. The person I wouldn’t want to room with, I think, would be Wesley Timoteo, simply because the two of us together would be chaotic, and on the eve of a game you’re more looking for calmness. 

7) Do you have any rituals on game day?

I keep a little bible with me and read about two pages before the match. I also go with the flow depending on how things are going, but sometimes I’ll have a massage beforehand. In terms of music, I usually listen to Lil Baby.  And when I get on the pitch, I always put my right foot before my left. I’m kind of superstitious to be honest, but I’m trying to work on that! 

8) You’re playing a 5-vs-5 and the team has to be made with players you shared the pitch with. You need to include a goalkeeper and yourself, who else are you calling up ?

As goalkeeper, I’ll take Jonathan Sirois simply because, as everyone is realizing lately, he’s one of the best goalkeepers in Canada, and also because we were formed together and know each other well. Among the players, with me, I’m going to take Woobens Pacius and Cedric Toussaint because, in addition to being good friends, both have a lot of potential and eventually people will understand the great value of these players. For the last one, man that’s tough! I think I’ll add one of my current teammates, Lorenzo Callegari. He’s one of the best players I’ve ever shared the pitch with. He was formed at Paris Saint-Germain, so I wouldn’t expect anything less, but he’s a player with a lot of quality and it’s easy to play with him.  

9) How would your friends describe you?

I think they’d describe me as a clown, that’s for sure. Someone who’s generous, someone who puts friendships first; I spend a lot of time with my friends and I think it’s important to have a social life. 

10) If you have friends or family visiting you in Halifax, what’s your go-to place where you’ll be bringing them to? 

Often on a day off, I like to go to the waterfront and there’s a seafood restaurant where everyone goes. It’s called Sea Smoke and it’s so good. I always take my family there when they come to visit! 

11) What’s your guilty pleasure song? 

When I’m sad, I sometimes listen to artists like Lewis Capaldi or James Arthur. Something a little softer. 

12) What’s your go-to cheat meal?

I love poutine and there’s nothing better than one from Quebec. When I come home, it’s a classic to eat one of these… or a Bergham! 

13) You are offered $500,000 and you have 24 hours to spend the money and you can’t invest it – how do you spend it?

I’d buy a LOT of clothes…yep! A nice car and some clothes. I like G-Wagons so I think that would be my choice. And clothing-wise, I like brands like Balenciaga so that would be a $500,000 well invested! 

14) According to you, what first impression do people have when they meet you?

I think people who meet me initially think I’m pretentious, but isn’t it a classic for a footballer? Once you get to know me, you soon realize that I’ve got a good sense of humour and that I’m serious when I need to be, but I don’t get worked up about anything. To be honest, I know I’ve got a shell to break through and it may take a little time to get to know me. 

15) Do you have any tattoos ? Which one is your favourite and what’s the meaning behind it ? 

I only have one, I had my forearm tattooed. The tattoo represents two doves; one for my best friend who died of cancer when I was seven, and the second is for my grandfather who passed away about three years ago. The clock represents time, as I believe life is a race against it, and the time shown is my mother’s birthday, 3:11 for March 11. She’s the most important woman in my life and it’s only right to have something that represents her. It’s a tattoo with a lot of meaning through many small details. 

16) What’s the best advice a family member has given you ?

That’s a good question! It’s definitely advice from my mother, no doubt about it. She’s given me a lot in my life, but one I’m thinking about right now is that when I’m faced with a situation I can’t control, to put it in God’s hands. It’s a quote I refer to a lot in my life! 

17) What do you look for in a friend ? 

I feel that these days, it’s rare to find friends who really want to see you succeed. I would say that in a friend, I’m looking for someone who is sincere, honest and who wants to see me succeed as much as he wants to see himself succeed. 

18) Tell me something we don’t know about you.

As a hidden talent, I can walk on my hands for like two minutes! When I was younger, I was always trying to walk on my hands and it became a habit to do so. People don’t really know that about me. 

19) Who is Zachary Fernandez going to be once he’s done being a professional footballer? 

Definitely an unhappy man! But I think at the end of my career, I’m going to enjoy life as much as I can. Enjoy time with my family, with my friends, and the little pleasures that surround them. I’ll have given so much to this sport that it’ll be time to balance things out. 

20) Who inspires you?

My mother. We went through something difficult together because my father wasn’t involved in our lives. I have two brothers, so we were three kids on our own with her and she took care of us so we didn’t miss anything; she always gave us everything. To me, there’s nothing greater than that in life, and I refer to her strength.  

Bonus question

21. What’s your definition of happiness ? 

I think my definition of happiness is always keeping both feet on the ground. I’ll be happy if my family doesn’t need anything, we’re healthy and I always have both feet on the ground.

Want to see more human behind the footballer? Here’s our talks with Aboubakary Sacko, Rocco Romeo, Triston Henry, and Mikael Cantave.

1 Comment
  • Denton 10 months ago

    So his definition of happiness is keeping his feet on the ground, but he can walk on his hands? Truly, a man of contrasts.

    This was a great read. Thanks!

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