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Four the magic number for Taiarui

Tahiti's Heimanu Taiarui. Image: FIFA via Getty Images

Heimanu Taiarui is a famous figure in his native Tahiti, thanks in no small part to his life-changing exploits at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Portugal 2015. A fisherman by trade, he helped the Tiki Toa reach the final of a tournament in which he was also awarded the adidas Golden Ball as its most outstanding player. For Taiarui, the days of walking unrecognised down the streets of Papeete, the nation’s capital, were well and truly over.

“People recognise me now and a lot of them come up and ask me for photos and autographs,” he told FIFA.com. “The World Cup turned my everyday life on its head and it’s opened a lot of doors for me too. It’s allowed me to travel. I get a lot of offers from overseas. It’s changed my life.”

Taiarui’s life story is anything but ordinary, even before his feats on the sands of Espinho. The son of a former captain of Tahiti’s national women’s football team, he has been, at various points of his life, a biker, a surfer, a fisherman, a globetrotting beach soccer player and a coach. With just four weeks to go before Bahamas 2017 kicks off, FIFA.com reveals four different aspects of the incredible career of the Tiki Toa No.4.

Before becoming a giant of beach soccer, Taiarui devoted his time to motocross, surfing and, above all, fishing, which was his full-time trade before he became a semi-professional beach soccer player. “It was a passion of mine to begin with,” explained Taiarui, who up until recently earned his money working in a poti marara, a Polynesian fishing boat. “When I was young, I used to go line fishing with my grandmother and then spear fishing with my father, which made me want to do it for a living.”

Taiarui was very much in demand after his stellar performances at Portugal 2015, with offers coming in from around the world. Over the next two years, he played for beach soccer teams in Switzerland, Portugal, Germany, Italy, Spain, Estonia and Japan and enjoyed some success along the way. After helping Portuguese side Braga take third place at the Euro Winners Cup (beach soccer’s equivalent to the UEFA Champions League) in Catania, Italy, in 2016, he then won the Japanese league title with Fusion of Kashiwasa. He then took a new direction, becoming the Bahamas national team coach.

“The reason why I’ve come here is to help the players improve. That’s what I really want to do,” said Taiarui on taking on the Bahamas job in March 2016. “This is a new experience for me, and who knows, it might be a career for me to pursue in the future.” Having now accomplished his mission and with the Bahamas about to host the Beach Soccer World Cup, which takes place on 27 April to 7 May, Taiarui has brought his association with them to an end. “It was a very interesting experience, but with Tahiti having qualified for the tournament, I couldn’t carry on coaching them,” he explained. “I have to focus on Tahiti again and my life as a player. I prefer playing to coaching anyway – it’s less of a headache.”

The man they call ‘Metal’, on account of him being a ‘hard man’, as he describes himself, has appeared at three World Cup competitions to date: Italy 2011, Tahiti 2013 and Portugal 2015, his breakthrough tournament. With his four goals and six assists in Espinho and his all-action style, the defender has become one of the undisputed stars of the sport. Having won the biggest individual award in the game, Taiarui is in no doubt as to what he wants to achieve next: “I want to be a world champion,” he declared, making his future goals as clear as can be.

Story courtesy of FIFA. For more on the world game visit www.fifa.com

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