Conversation with Nando De Colo: 'You can always learn, and reading helps'

Dec 20, 2017 by Print
Conversation with Nando De Colo: 'You can always learn, and reading helps'

CSKA Moscow ace Nando De Colo is renowned as one of the most intelligent performers in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague – a deeply perceptive player whose ability to read the game and exploit the spaces available on the court have helped him become one of the most consistent scorers in the competition's history.

It's no great surprise to learn, then, that De Colo has a similar approach to life off the court, using much of his spare time to exercise his mind with a simple but valuable hobby: reading.

Life as a professional basketball player, especially in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague, provides plenty of opportunities for reading as teams spend so much time travelling between games – even more so when your home is a far-flung city like Moscow, with every road game involving a long flight.

And De Colo makes sure that he doesn't waste a minute of those travels, explaining that reading is just one of the activities he carries out on the road.

"We have a lot of travel and a lot of time away from our families, so you need to spend that time doing other things," he said.

"Whenever we play away from Moscow in EuroLeague, we have to fly for at least four or five hours to Turkey, Spain, Athens or wherever, so it's important to have something to do.

"I like watching movies and TV shows, and sometimes I play games. I always have my laptop so I can do things like editing my family photos, and I also need to spend time working on my summer basketball camp. And for sure, I also like to read books."

De Colo was not, however, always particularly fond of reading.

"When I was younger, I only read at school because I had to!" he recalls with a smile.

"But when I started to play professionally in Cholet, we often had to travel seven or nine hours by bus to play our road games. We had a lot of time to fill, and one day my assistant coach Jacques Perigois, who is now assistant coach at Le Portel, showed me a book by Henning Mankell about a detective, 'Wallander'.

"So I started to read this book, and I really liked it. Then I realised it was a series with eight or nine different books, so I carried on reading and by the end I had read the whole series! That's more or less when I started reading."

Since then, De Colo has developed and maintained a healthy appetite for reading "a bit of everything."

As you would expect from an elite sportsman, he enjoys reading about the lives of fellow professional athletes and has recently finished a book about one of his biggest sporting idols, Barcelona footballer Andres Iniesta.

"I love Iniesta because of how he plays and also the way he is off the pitch," De Colo explained. "He's not the kind of guy who will take all the limelight, he's very quiet, but he has a football camp to show young people how they can be better.

"And on the pitch, he's not the player who will score two or three goals but he makes the team better, and improves everyone around him.

"So I enjoyed reading the biography he wrote with two journalists, Marcos Lopez and Ramon Besa, telling the story about how he started to play. For me, the best part was about a time when he was injured. It was interesting to see how difficult life can be, even for someone like Iniesta."

In addition to sports books, De Colo has an open mind to reading a wide variety of subjects, generally finding new books by recommendations from his friends.

"I like all kinds of music, TV shows, movies and books. I try to pay attention to everything that people say is good, so when someone recommends a book to me, I try to read it.

"One of my favourite writers is Paulo Coelho, a Brazilian author whose books are quite philosophical. I read 'The Alchemist', his most famous book, and 'The Winner Stands Alone'. It shows how even if people are rich and famous, sometimes they are alone because they travel a lot and don't have time to be with their families. 'The Alchemist' is a good one for talking about never giving up on what you want to do in life.

"A couple of French authors I enjoy are Guillaume Musso and Marc Levy, who are quite famous in France. They tell good stories. Musso often starts with the end of the book and then goes back to the past, to explain how it got there.

"I also liked a trilogy by Katherine Pancol. The first one is called 'The Yellow Eyes of Crocodiles'. It's about life, how from nothing you can become better and how from the top you can go down. It's about 700 pages long so it takes a long time to read!"

As a Frenchman living in Moscow with a Spanish wife and working in an English-language environment, De Colo admits there's another benefit to reading, laughing: "It helps me keep my French!

"Reading is good for the brain, and it's important for me. You can always learn, and reading helps you do that. I always like to improve – for example, if I have to do some calculating, I don't just take out my phone. I make myself work it out on with pen and paper, just so I have to work a little bit." In the long-run, De Colo has ideas not just about reading more books, but also about writing one – his own.

"Why not?" he asks. "I would want to do something a little bit different. I don't think a book just talking about my career would be very interesting, but if I could do something different it might be a good idea." And one that a lot of people would look forward to reading.