Allan Saint-Maximin is a larger-than-life character at Newcastle United on and off the pitch, with the enigmatic French winger famed for his trademark headband with dreadlocks look that marks him out as being a little different to the norm.
The 25-year-old revels in such a role, and always has done, with a player that has taken inspiration from some of the most mercurial playmakers of all time – such as Ronaldinho and Zinedine Zidane – looking to leave his own lasting impression on the game.
He also keeps himself busy with creative ventures away from the football field, with his very own board game produced, and intends to continue heading down a path that allows him to “take risks” with his image, profession of choice and business interests.
A man that joined Newcastle from Nice in the summer of 2019 says that his distinctive style is inspired by a character from a famous movie from the 1980s, telling GOAL of why he wears a headband: “I'm not particularly trying to stand out.
“The headband, for example, I've always liked Karate Kid, tennis players, but also manga. In the world of manga [Japanese comics and novels], there are mythical characters who wear headbands. In tennis, [Rafa] Nadal and [Roger] Federer also wear them. Karate Kid too.
“Obviously, wearing a headband while being bald is not the best look. That's what also made me want to find a haircut that could go with my headbands.”
While clinging to dreams of forcing his way into the senior France squad ahead of the 2022 World Cup, a talented forward with 12 Newcastle goals to his name from 90 appearances admits that he has always enjoyed being a flamboyant performer.
“I was born into it,” he said when asked about his playing style and those he wanted to emulate.
“Since I was little, whether at futsal, at five, at home between the furniture, I have always dribbled. I was going everywhere with my ball and my goal was always to dribble.
“I've always liked Brazilian players a lot, whether it's Robinho or Ronaldinho. There are also very classy French players like Zidane. They inspired me and made me want to dribble.
“When you start football at four years old and you train for 10 or 15 years to make cross passes, to work the left foot or the right foot, you inevitably manage to have qualities and to get by with the ball. But knowing how to dribble past opponents very well is not given to everyone. That's why a Zidane, in the France team, we didn't have 50 of them.”
The Magpies star launched his own board game in January 2022 and continues to explore other avenues away from the football pitch, such as NFTs.
His game, which is called Helios, is based on the world of Greek gods and involves a combination of risk and luck with cards, dice and coins, with its tagline being ‘Fortune favours the bold’.
That sums up Saint-Maximin, who has said of branching out in a direction that few of his contemporaries would have considered and whether you need to be gifted in order to tread such a path: “We will say that this is a good example because it helped me to create a whole game, all the rules of this board game and everything that could be thought of around it, to also create a game that people will like, a game that stands out from the others.
“It took me a long time to get there and for sure having a high IQ helped me achieve my goal.
“I'm not a big fan of board games. It was my children who made me want to create my own game, to play. That there are tournaments organised all over the world around something that I imagined, I find this beautiful.”
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