YOUR KUNGFU • DANNY KARBASSIYOON (PART II)

In Part II of YourKungfu's interview with Danny Karbassiyoon, he opens up to share the heart and soul of why he does what he does. From living his own dreams to helping others fulfill theirs, you'll see how a small town boy turned a seemingly ordinary interest into an extraordinary gift.

Philippe Senderos, Danny Karbassiyoon, Cesc Fabregas

Philippe Senderos, Danny Karbassiyoon, Cesc Fabregas

7. What's a fun memory you have of when you were sharing your passion?

I’ve had the chance to travel to a lot of really neat places through my scouting job and it never ceases to amaze me how powerful a club like Arsenal can be all over the world. Some trips are quite routine in that I arrive, rent a car, go to a hotel, watch a game, and then go back to the airport and fly home the next day. Others - especially to smaller countries - are much larger affairs where the locals generally arrange trials, meetups, events, dinners, and more. I always leave those places feeling warm because you see just how much it means to them. Many of the people in these smaller countries may never get the chance to see their favorite team play live, let alone in their home stadium. It always makes me smile seeing these fans wearing Arsenal jerseys from the 90’s and hearing them tell me who their favorite player is. Soccer unifies people everywhere and is a common language worldwide, and I think my scouting gig has helped me realize that even more. 

8. What are some of your hobbies/things you enjoy doing outside of work? How have they - if at all - influenced you and/or your work?

Funny enough I enjoy reading about things that have nothing to do with soccer because it helps broaden my horizons and keep me open minded. My travels have taught me that the world has an incredible amount to offer in terms of culture, foods, languages, and so much more. I love history and always try to do a little bit of research about places I’m going so that I can see things that have some sort of historical relevance if I’m nearby. 

I wouldn’t say it influences my work directly, but it certainly helps with building relationships and earning the respect of locals. Whenever I’m in a foreign country, I’m always asking questions and trying to learn about the people and customs there. Nearly everywhere I’ve gone, the people are excited and happy to have someone so curious about their way of life. It makes me happy just listening to them discuss what makes their country and their people so special. 

9. What's your proudest achievement thus far?

I’d have to say the goal I scored on my Arsenal debut is my proudest achievement. Actually that night, I basically one-upped my proudest achievement four times. First, I was ecstatic to see my name emblazoned across the back of an Arsenal jersey when I walked into the locker room. Then I was even happier to find myself on the bench with 15 other guys in an official Arsenal first team match. (Yes, I was happy to be on the bench - that is how competitive it was - just being involved was a highlight). Then things got even better when our coach asked me to get ready and sent me onto the field in front of some 25,000 people in the last 15 minutes. Finally, I scored and became the first American to do so for Arsenal. Manchester City ended up scoring right after I did, so at 2-1, my goal ended up being the winner. Needless to say, I was a happy person!

10. What's your intention with the work you do? What would you say your mission is?

Danny with one of his scouted talents - Gedion Zelalem - who's now 17 and has made his first team debut with Arsenal

Danny with one of his scouted talents - Gedion Zelalem - who's now 17 and has made his first team debut with Arsenal

From a scouting perspective, its great giving others the opportunity to go live out their dreams. As mentioned, I’ve only signed 2 players during my time as a scout, but its remarkably rewarding seeing them improve and get their chance on the big stage. 

From my personal/start-up perspective, I enjoy making people happy and my cofounder and I are trying to leverage those contacts we’ve made in the football world over the past 10 years to really bring fans and players closer to one another. I’ve learned just how powerful of a combination social media and celebrities can be, and I think what we are doing can take it a step further and give fans everywhere a unique and lasting experience with their favorite players. 

11. What motivates you?

I think the human race’s endless potential motivates me. I’m always amazed at products, ideas, and concepts that people everywhere come up with and I want to make sure that I’m able to make an impression or provide something that gives people everywhere satisfaction and happiness. I’ve been lucky enough to cross the white line and play in front of thousands of people. I know not everyone will get the opportunity to do that, but if I can do something that brings a fan that much closer to an experience like that, while rewarding these big time pros and personalities in the meantime, then I’ll be a happy camper. 

12. When all is said and done, what kind of impact/impression do you want to leave in the world?

For me, above all, I want to leave the world with even an ounce of the happiness that I’ve been lucky enough to experience throughout my life. Injuries and setbacks unfortunately derailed the career I’d planned on my whole life, but remaining upbeat, thankful, and more importantly happy about all the people and experiences around me has kept me motivated and passionate about life. Throughout my travels, I’ve seen pain, suffering, joy, and happiness - even in the darkest places, the power of a smile can light up a room. I’ve always enjoyed making people laugh and ultimately making them feel better about whatever situation they seem to be in. When it is all said and done, I hope the people I’ve had an impression on will remember that and share that same feeling to the people around them. 

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Follow Danny Karbassiyoon on Twitter at @dkarbassiyoon