Q&A | Introducing Gary Mackay-Steven

Gary Mackay-Steven has joined New York City FC as a midseason signing on a free transfer after his contract with Scottish Premier League Club Aberdeen FC expired. As we welcome the newest addition to the club, get to know the winger who will be making the move to the Big Apple to represent the City Blue. 

How does it feel to be a New York City player? 

“It feels amazing, it has all happened quite quickly but I’m absolutely thrilled. I couldn’t be happier.”

What was it that made you decide that New York was right for you? 

“The size of the club, really, and playing in the MLS. I know the league’s getting bigger and bigger. As of right now, it’s absolutely massive, even right here. It’s always been a draw and for New York to come in… it’s hard to say no. Now finally it’s done and I can’t wait to get started.”

How much do you know about New York coming in? 

“Well in January there was interest, so it was back then and it was around the final day of the transfer window there was proper concrete interest. It didn’t happen then and it was a little bit disappointing, from my point of view. I just put my head down and worked the rest of the season. Thankfully it came up again and I grabbed it with both hands.”

For them to have that sustained interest in you, that must mean a lot…

“Exactly. It really shows when a team makes a big play for you, have obviously been following your career, and knows a lot about you… It’s flattering, especially a team like New York, so for me now to be done and dusted, and signed up. It’s a real feeling and an amazing one.”

Part of the Citi Football Group, we obviously have a philosophy called the beautiful game, is that something you’re passionate about?

“Definitely, when you see the teams from afar the way they play football, the way football should be played. Obviously for a player like me coming into an atmosphere where the philosophy is in place, the way the teams set out and play, it’s going to be enjoyable. I know just from watching it, it’s enjoyable as a fan so never mind being apart of it. To be apart of it now, my games going to come on and I have no doubt about that. I just want to learn as much as I can and hopefully hit the ground running.”

How would you describe your playing style for someone who perhaps hasn’t seen you play before? 

“I’m a winger… I play in the wing - either right or left, I’m left footed, I like to juggle, create chances for my teammates, chip in with some goals certainly, and take people on. I like 1v1 situations, I like making things happen, and just get the fans off their seats kind of thing. Hopefully I can do that over there, show them what I’m all about and be a success.”

Are there aspects of the game you feel you’d want to improve on?

“I think you can never, not, improve as a player… Everything like goals and assists is what my job in the team is, but I want to get their numbers right up high and defensively just all around. There’s no aspect you can’t improve on so I’m going out with an open mind and just looking to learn as much as I can.”

What are your thoughts on the MLS and what was it that attracted you to go from Scotland to that league? 

“I just think it’s a big new league. It’s so many new experiences, so many new big teams. It’s expanding and it has been for years and years. You see a lot of players going out there, its on the tv a lot now… I’ve been following it a lot. I caught some games when I was out in America. It’s just something you want to be apart of when you’re a player and you see from the outside, I can only imagine going and the scale of it. I know it’s a big deal already and it’s only going one way and that’s up. So to be apart of it and to be, especially, at a club like New York is amazing for me personally.”

Having played in Scotland, do you think there are aspects of the Scottish game that you can perhaps take over there? 

“Definitely, there’s big games and big teams in Scotland. There are rivalries, and I know New York has obviously got a big rivalry between the Red Bulls and the City from afar so obviously looking forward to that. There’s that in Scotland where it’s a physical league, but there’s also a technical quality in it as well. I know from watching the games I’ve watched that there’s a lot of that in America as well so it’ll be interesting to see similarities. Hopefully I can adapt soon.”

What would you say has been your biggest accomplishment so far in your career?

"Making my debut for my country is a big thing for a player growing up. Also played in the Champions League against Manchester City for Celtic a few years ago at Etihad so we test the standard of CFG and what they’re all about there so it was nice personally. I feel like I’m coming into the peak years of my career and I want to achieve a lot more. I feel America’s a great place to do that.”

One of your compatriots, Jonny Russell who has gone over there and had some success with Sporting KC. Hoping to follow in his footsteps?

“Certainly, he’s another big draw for the league. I used to play with him a few years ago at Dundee United and he only says positive things and he loves it. You see that he’s been doing well, I’m very happy for him. He’s another one I got in contact with in January about the prospect of moving over and he only had good things to say so made up my mind as well.”

Are there any other players that you’re personally looking forward to working with?

“Everyone, the culture… I wouldn’t say there’s one specific player. It’s just a mixture of so many cultures, so many countries, and I think that can only aid just learning off of everyone. Going out like a kid really, just being delighted, but looking to soak up everything and every style. Quickly hit the ground running and show what I can do as well.”

New York, itself, the city.. You must be very excited to get over there. What is it that attracted you to move there?

“Apart from the football, the City, I’ve been there a of couple times. It’s an amazing place, you’ve got everything you’d need and more. That’s another aspect that will be amazing for me, but I wouldn’t put my finger one thing. There’s everything you’d ever need and I’m going to have a lot of fun I think.”

How would you describe yourself off the pitch?

“I’d describe myself as determined, very ambitious, very driven, but also laid back. I don’t let things bother me too much, off the field there’s just a laid back character. I’m just open to everything, determined, but reserved maybe.”

How do you like to relax? 

“I like to chill out just by spending time with my family and my girlfriend. I also like playing a little bit of guitar every now and then. Golf, back in Scotland. I won’t be lost for things to do in New York, that’s for sure.”

In terms of your season targets, what does a successful first year look like for you?

"A successful first year, definitely establish myself in the team and learn the way the manager wants me to play, how the boys play quickly, and definitely chip in with some goals and assists. Really help the team to more victories and I feel everything’s in place to really win a trophy. I know the team’s in the quarterfinal of the Open Cup but really win the conference as well and the league. That’s all in place, and a squad like New York that has assembled, and the structure certainly, so just aid that and chip in with goals and assists.”

Do you have a message for the fans?

"I’m delighted I finally signed on the dotted line and can’t wait the hit the ground running. To make my debut in the blue shirt, it just felt so good having it on today. I can’t wait to show what I can do at Yankee Stadium. It’ll be amazing.”