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Walsall's Maz Kouhyar delight over international call-up

Sport | Published:

He's enjoyed a whirlwind few months that have seen him make his full Walsall debut and score his first professional goal.

And now Maz Kouhyar has been rewarded for his efforts with international recognition after being called up to the Afghanistan squad for their friendly with Malaysia on October 11.

The talented midfielder was born in the country but left as a two-year-old when his parents decided to flee following the outbreak of war.

And the youngster admits the bravery of his mum and dad is one of the main things that motivates him to be successful.

"I moved to England when I was two years-old as there was a war in Afghanistan at the time," Kouhyar said. "There was a lot of tension in the country and people were getting killed so my parents decided to flee.

"I can't imagine what it was like for them. I don't remember any of that as I was too young but I've gone back since.

"My mum and dad have worked really hard to help give me the life I've got today and football is a way of paying them back.

"I'm determined to do the best I can, both for them and for Walsall. My parents have always kept me grounded and believed in me. I want to repay them the best I can."

Kouhyar admits it was a big honour to be called up to the Afghanistan squad.

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"I felt really proud," he continued. "I've got a lot of family in Afghanistan and I haven't actually told them yet as I want it be a surprise.

"Everyone in Afghanistan will watch the football and when they watch it, it will be a surprise for them to see me hopefully come on, or even start. It's a dream come true."

Over the past few months, Kouyhar has become a regular fixture in Walsall's matchday squad.

He made his senior debut in August when he came off the bench against Chesterfield.

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The academy graduate then marked his first start with a goal as the Saddlers secured a 5-2 win over Grimsby in the Checkatrade Trophy. And now the teenager admits he is hungry for more. "It's been good a few months," he said.

"I expected to be around the group but the gaffer has put trust in me and played me a few times so it has been really good.

"I did think it would take me a bit longer to break into the first team, but I do feel I am good enough. I don't want to just settle for this – I'm hungry for more. I want to be starting games, scoring goals and contributing to the team."

Having now got some first-team experience under his belt, Kouyhar believes Walsall fans will soon see the best of him.

"Making my debut against Chesterfield was a really proud moment," he added.

"During the game I had a feeling as I saw the managers talking and they looked over towards me. As soon as they looked over, I started to warm up, just to be ready.

"When I was told I was going on I quickly put my shirt on and couldn't wait to get out there. Since I was a kid I've dreamt of playing football in the professional game and that night it finally happened.

"So far I feel like I've done alright for the first team, but I still need to build my confidence up. I like taking players on and committing players, but I don't feel I've done that as much as I should have done.

"Defensively, I think I've been quite solid, and when I've played I've always given 100 per cent for the team."

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