Total squash: Grasshopper Cup like a physical game of chess says football star
By NATHAN CLARKE in Zurich
Legendary Dutch footballer Marco van Basten has praised the world’s top squash stars after the 52-year-old attended the second day of action at the 2017 Grasshopper Cup currently taking place in Zurich’s Puls5.
Van Basten, a three-time FIFA Ballon d’Or winner who represented AFC Ajax, A.C. Milan and the Netherlands national football team, is one of the greatest footballers of all time and scored over 300 goals throughout a glittering playing career.
The revolutionary style employed by the Dutch national team was labelled “total football” where players had to feel comfortable in all parts of the pitch. Here in Zurich he was enthralled by the squash players looking comfortable, and trying to make their opponents feel the opposite, in every part of the court.
And with the likes of World No.1 Karim Abdel Gawad and the man he dethroned at the summit of the World Rankings earlier this week – Gregory Gaultier – taking to the court during day two of the PSA M100 tournament held in Zurich, van Basten was quick to laud the skills of the world’s leading squash players.
“I think the set up here is great,” said van Basten, who now holds the post of FIFA Chief Officer for Technical Development.
“For me, it’s the first time I’ve seen an international squash tournament up close – the level is very high and it is unbelievable what the players can do on the court.
“It’s like playing chess and it is also physical. You can be smart, strong, mean and I like that. It’s like boxing but it is also like music, it’s very technical, so it has a bit of everything.
“The players are so strong, so quick and also clever – it really is a top sport. But the players are also humble which is very nice to see.”
An ankle injury saw van Basten play his last professional football match at the age of just 28 and the Dutchman revealed that the injury pushed him towards taking up squash in recent years – and he still plays three times a week.
“After my football career, I had a problem with my ankle which meant I couldn’t play other sports easily,” he continued.
“I tried golf and biking, which I didn’t like, and tennis, but the court was too big for me. All of a sudden I found myself playing squash a few years ago – I felt good, was enjoying myself and I had no problems with my ankle, so I’ve continued playing since.”
The Grasshopper Cup continues tonight (May 5) from 17:30 local time, with the quarter-finals shown live on SQUASHTV (Rest of World) and Eurosport Player (Europe Only).
PSA M100 Grasshopper Cup 2017, Puls 5, Zurich, Switzerland.
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) v  Ali Farag (EGY)
 Omar Mosaad (EGY) v  Nick Matthew (ENG)
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v  Simon Rösner (GER)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) v  Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY)
Picture courtesy of PSA