United States Men’s National Team (USMNT) and Middlesbrough FC and goalkeeper Zack Steffen knew from a young age football was his passion. Growing up in an athletic family, where he often played baseball and basketball, sports has always been a part of his life.
Born in Coaresville, Pennsylvania, Stefen started out as a defender for West Chester United as a young boy. It was by chance one weekend that his coach asked him to fill in as goalkeeper and since then the number one shirt has been his favourite.
The 27-year-old signed with Manchester City in the summer of 2019 and was sent out on loan to Fortuna Dusseldorf, before making his Premier League debut in 2021 with a 3-1 away victory over Chelsea.
“Football has been my whole life since I was 10,” he says. “But if I wasn’t a footballer I’d want to do something in fashion or art, definitely something creative.”
He’s dressed in a green Off-White knitted hoodie with an impressive collection of shoes behind him, his favourites are a pair of light blue Louis Vuitton’s.
Two years ago on 28 November, fashion designer Virgil Abloh died suddenly. The 41-year-old was the creative director for Louis Vuitton and Off-White and was battling a rare and aggressive form of cancer cardiac angiosarcoma.
“Virgil’s death was really surprising and caught us all off guard. It was really eye opening because he was a creative genius and he was gone too soon. He was someone who did a lot of good out in the world. Those are the types of people that I like to be around and I share the same values as those kinds of people,” said Steffen.
In 2020, Steffen and his former teammate Alex Crognale founded Voyce Now, a non profit that brings together athletes from across the globe to use their platforms to advocate for for equality.
“Outreach work is important to me coming from my mum and how she raised myself and my four other siblings. She always told us to treat others how we would like to be treated.
“She instilled in us to give back to other people. It doesn’t have to be loads of money, it can be a smile or a hug or your time. I’m blessed that my hard work and luck has put me in a good position to give back and have a platform to use my voice and speak out for other people who might need some help.
“Voyce Now was created after the murder of George Floyd to speak up about social injustice and police brutality in America and bring together athletes who want to give back to the next generation.
“We had a really good 2022 and we want to build off that and maybe go into fashion more this year,” Steffen says.
In football Steffen’s inspiration has come from the legendary Brazilian footballer Ronaldinho and Spanish goalkeeper Iker Casillas but off the field it’s much closer to home.
“My family has always been my inspiration. They’re number one for me. I love being around them and it’s tough to be out here and be away from them but family for me is everything. I use them as motivation to keep going and to sacrifice now for hopefully a lot of happiness and sanctuary later.”
Between his roots in America and his current home in England, Steffen has found British slang as an amusing way to bridge the gap.
“You guys do use weird lingo over here, it’s strange because it’s the same language. My favourite is probably when you say two rhyming words but it means something else [referring to Cockney rhyming slang]. Scott Carson was really big on that but I could never guess what it was.”
As a loyal Philly fan across the board, supporting Philadelphia flyers, Eagles and 76ers, he’s adamant the reigning champions will keep the title at the 2023 Women’s World Cup.
“A USA and England final would be sick but obviously we’re going to win it.”