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Meet an Academy Athlete: Zaher Shihata What will be the best part of the Development Academy Program?
 Zaher Shihata: “Just playing against the top level teams. You get to play teams from across the country you wouldn’t always play.” How do you think being part of the Academy will help you improve as a player?
ZS: “You’re in an environment with all the best teams in the country, so you’re playing against the highest competition and training every day, which helps you get better as a player.” What’s it like knowing the national team and college coaches are watching every game?
ZS: “I think it’s really cool. I’m also kind of nervous at the same time because all the coaches are watching you. The pressure is on, but that can also help you play better, too.” What do you think of the setup here at the Home Depot Center? What’s your favorite part?
ZS: “The lounge is a pretty nice environment to just hang out and chill. I’ve been playing some FIFA on Xbox and drinking some Gatorade. One of my teammates also won a shirt, so that’s pretty cool. We also watched other games, including that match between the U.S. National Team and Chivas USA the first night. That was a pretty cool game.” What’s your pre-game routine?
ZS: “I listen to music and then go to the trainer and get a massage. I listen to rap and hip-hop, including Tupac or classical hip-hop.” Who is your favorite MNT player, and why?
ZS: “Probably be Clint Dempsey. He’s working hard in the EPL and he came from a tough environment, worked hard and got there.” Who’s your favorite non-U.S. soccer player?
ZS: “Zinedine Zidane. I actually met him once and got his autograph. My parents are from Egypt and Real Madrid was playing an Egyptian team like two weeks after he signed. They played an exhibition and we got to meet him after the game. I was born here, but I go to Egypt every summer.” What is your first soccer memory?
ZS: “Playing sand soccer in Virgina Beach and scoring a goal when I was seven years old.” What is your best soccer moment?
ZS: “This past summer at Regionals we played against Seacoast and I scored the winning goal. It was pretty sweet. It was off a header.” If you weren’t playing soccer, what would you be doing this weekend?
ZS: “Probably playing some pick-up soccer with some people on Saturday. That’s what we do.”