At the age of 16, Tony Mamodaly was brought into the youth of TSG Hoffenheim by Ralf Rangnick and was considered a promising talent. But despite invitations to the national U-team of the DFB, he did not make the breakthrough in Hoffenheim, at KSC or at Dynamo Dresden.
While Mamodaly played international matches for the national team of his fatherland Madagascar in front of 50,000 spectators, he was only allowed to play for the Oberliga team in Dresden. After the Mannheim native’s contract with Dynamo expired and a move to Nuremberg was canceled on Deadline Day, he ended his playing career at the age of 20.
Mamodaly ventured a fresh start in the USA, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Miami with a 1.0 and doing his master’s degree at the renowned Columbia University. Today the 30-year-old runs a consulting agency that gives failed European talents a second chance and works in Hoffenheim as Head of International Operations.
In an interview with SPOX and goal explains Mamodaly how he freed himself from the hole of his failed playing career and how he is now passing on his experiences to young players. He also reveals how his time in the USA shaped him as a person and the complex tasks his role at TSG encompasses.
Mr. Mamodaly, what is your fondest memory of your time as an active footballer?
How should one imagine the international trips with Madagascar?
Mamodaly: Much more rudimentary than you know from Europe. It was always exciting because 20 of the 23 players came from abroad – mostly from France, but also from Spain and England. I was the only one from Germany. We mostly went to Madagascar first, where there was a big gathering. That was far from what we know from Germany. There were no private jets or anything like that, instead we flew in second class.
How are the conditions compared to what you are used to in Europe?
Mamodaly: The conditions are very bad, which is mainly due to the fact that the infrastructure in the country itself is very ailing. You can hardly get to smaller cities from the capital because the roads are very difficult to drive. Madagascar is still one of the ten poorest countries in the world. So you can imagine that the little money is not invested in football.
The move to Nuremberg seemed to be dry, but your advisor took care of another client on Deadline Day and let the deal fall through. Even before that, there were more people who stood in the way of your career. Did you have a discussion with someone afterwards?
Mamodaly: There is a high quality in the junior performance centers and from a mathematical point of view it is not at all possible that more than a certain number of players make the leap into the professional field. I understood that relatively quickly at the time and I have the greatest respect for coaches like Guido Streichsbier, David Wagner and Markus Kauczinski. That’s why there is no bad blood for me. On the contrary: the three named were so fair that they were honest with me. Until I was 17 years old, I played soccer and handball at a high level in parallel. If you look today at Borussia Dortmund’s three to four 17-year-olds playing in the pros, you can imagine that you won’t reach the top level you need if you’re still two-pronged at this age.
What decision do you regret in retrospect?
Mamodaly: I’m a big fan of Simon Sinek, who put forward the theory that there are two types of games in life that differ in their time limit: the finite game and the infinite game. In finite game, the players, the duration and the rules are known. It is also clear early on who the winners and losers are. In the Infinite Game, however, the players are unknown, the rules can be changed and there is no clear end point. These two models can be applied to business or politics, but also to life in general. When I look at how I played the finite game back then, I lost. But if I look at the Infinite Game and see my experience back then as preparation for my career today, I have needed every setback and every negative or positive experience to be in the position I am in today.
And was it bad luck that you lost the finite game of your professional career?