‘If you train hard – the game is easy.’

Toronto FC’s Chris Mavinga on learning from Gerrard, Torres and Carragher.

On yesterday’s Footy Talks Live Luke, KJ and Stevie were joined by Toronto FC’s Chris Mavinga to talk about getting back to business in the upcoming MLS tournament in Florida.

But it was also a chance to turn back the clock and reflect on Mavinga’s formative years, coming through the ranks at PSG and Liverpool. Chris shared fascinating insights into the training ground culture at Anfield, and explained how he brings those valuable experiences with him on to the pitch at BMO Field:

‘I came through the academy at PSG and I learned a lot – but I learned most when I was at Liverpool. I used to train with the first team and that’s where I first understood what a ‘high level’ means. Playing around Gerrard and Torres was a very good experience for me – but maybe I was too young [too appreciate it]. After that experience you want to make sure that in your career you can keep on and make sure it helps you and your game in the future. I learned a lot and I’m really happy to have this experience and now I think I’m doing this at TFC and trying to be my best.’

‘The best example was Steven Gerrard. When I first came – I remember this day – I was on the treadmill and Steven Gerrard came alongside me and saw I was exhausted. He said ‘hey do you want a drink?’and gave me a bottle of water – and this guy is Steven Gerrard, the big player we all know!’  

At that time he had some problems and was training with me in the second team. I remember we had a game and the coach wanted to make Stevie captain, but he refused. It was a friendly game for the second team – but he played like it was the Champion’s League! He was working hard, he was tackling, he was jumping – he was trying to shoot from everywhere.’ 

Later when I started training with the first team – working on set pieces and corners – Carragher was 100% too. He said you have to mark, you have to be strong, even in training. That’s when I understood what it means to play at a high level – they play hard every single time, even in training you have to play hard.’

This is what I learned from them – that’s why here in TFC I’m not the vocal guy, but I want to put that intensity in – with my body language and my composure. In every game I try to make everyone around me understand that you have to train hard. I always say if you train hard the game is going to be easy – the training has to be more difficult than the game.

Check out the full interview to learn about Mavinga’s extra motivation when facing Montreal Impact, who TFC will line up against in the group stages in Orlando – as well as Chris’s thoughts on Toronto coach Greg Vanney.

Edwin Tubb