TORONTO – Mr. Dwayne De Rosario needs no presentation: a soccer player who has taken the game to the next level, he is a generous human being, father to four and mentor to many youth who admire what he’s done in his career. This great opportunity to interview him comes as he is about to launch his first biography, out in bookstores on May the 11th.
On the verge of launching your first book, how do you feel?
«I am excited. To finally launch it is exciting. I can’t wait to see the response of the readers. It is really opening yourself up and sharing my story to the world is not the easiest at times. I’ve always been a private person… and here we are!»
Talking about Dwayne as a kid, you mention breakdancing and DJing your own house party...
«It’s interesting you mention that episode. That producer is actually none other than Director X, and the famous video for Sean Paul’s ‘Like Glue’ was actually filmed in Toronto. It really captures that experience: we kids beating on the furnace, beating on the wall, our parents coming down separating us boys from girls. You simply look back and you smile».
You write «Soccer was my first love». What are your other big loves?
«I love basketball, nature and the outdoors, I love history. I am well aware that there is so much out there in the world to discover, which is something I love doing with my family».
As we get to your first experience in Italy with AC Milan, what is so special about Italian soccer?
«It was a truly new experience for me. Culturally, everyone loved soccer, food and soccer is a match, a connection. It brings people together: it can take them apart if you are on opposing teams. But it is always a great passion for Italians. At that time, the way the team was trained was incredible. All the players had a real understanding of one another, of their movements, on the ball, off the ball. You have to appreciate it as a work of art. It is not scripted but everyone understands the movements».
You were 17 and you turned down a five-year contract with AC Milan: how come? Did you regret it later?
«100%: who knows what would have happened. Would I have done it differently? My life would have been completely different. A five-year contract seemed like forever, especially when you are 17. It was a tough decision and I was not ready for that at the time».
In three words, what are the major achievements this career provided you with?
«Stability, happiness and dignity as a father, as a person. I love to be the provider for my family. And I’d add responsibility. It pushes me to bring the best to my family, and to the field as well».
What is the DeRo Foundation, a foundation that doesn’t only look after Canadian kids but also outside of Canada, right?
«My dream was to provide opportunities to kids like me, coming from less fortunate neighbourhoods. One day I came to the epiphany of philanthropy. I went to Mali with the United Nations and I felt so good, it was so humbling, and it was so rewarding. Then I thought I should launch my own. With my brother I organized free camps here in Canada and in the USA. We later partnered with the Toronto Community Foundation. They were able to work with us and help us create programmes that are sustainable and raise funds to keep these initiatives going».
What is the first thing that you do in the morning?
«I give thanks for life, for my family, for my breath. I set my hot water, I play my music and I enjoy my porch».
Red or white wine?
«I am a proverbial red, I like my Chiantis, wines from Tuscany. Also wines from California, as I lived there for a while».
You often refer to flare in your book: is there an Italian fashion designer that you like in particular?
«Ermenegildo Zegna: easy to wear, classy and timeless».
A place in Italy you haven’t been to and you want to visit soon?
«I have never been to Naples: I can’t wait to go there to pay tribute to the city of Maradona».
We’ll be waiting to welcome you, Mr. DeRo.
[“DeRo. My life.” Dwayne De Rosario with Brendan Dunlop. ECW Press, 208 pages, 34.95 CAD. Out in bookstores on May 11, 2021]
In the pics: Dwayne De Rosario with Tinashe, one of his sons; De Rosario with Drake; the cover of the book written by De Rosario with Brendan Dunlop “DeRo. My life” (Courtesy of ECW Press C 2021)