FROM VORKUTA RESERVES TO UKRAINE PRO
PICTURE: Fadi Salback now recognized by town ‘s residents as a celebrity. IM PR INC EIN PRESSWIRE
Fadi Salback, the university student from Bowmanville Ontario, spotted in 2019 by FC Vorkuta during a winter off-season indoor soccer game and signed for a trial in the Canadian Soccer League team’s reserve squad to score four goals in his opening game, has caught the eye of the European media and the fans while playing for FC Podillava Khmelnytskyi in the Ukrainian Second Division.
Salback, 22, with promising credentials prior to that indoor match, was promptly moved to the Vorkuta first division squad where more goals followed in quick succession.
Salback’s earlier signs of talent came when the Israeli-born striker was selected for Ontario’s Provincial U-16 team before entering Ontario Tech University at Oshawa, Ont. to study software engineering. Selected also for the university team, he scored a record 16 goals in his first season, was named the all-Canadian Rookie of the Year and named an east division first team all-star.
Salback was signed by the Ukrainian club following a two-week trial late summer and has now caught the eye of the European media after scoring five goals in his first six games since Ukraine kicked off a new season in October. One news report explains that when Salback walks through Khmelnytskyi, Ukraine, he’s recognized by the town’s residents as a celebrity.
Vorkuta GM Samad Kadirov considered Salback to be an exceptional player when he was first seen by Kadirov, Vorkuta FC owner Igor Demitchev, and Steve Kokkoros of the Thornhill Soccer Club just north of Toronto during that indoor winter season match. “We are pleased to sign him and he’s now considered one of our top assets with real promise for the future” said Kadirov at the time.
Demitchev takes it a step further and believes the local youth talent has contributed greatly to the success of his club since its launch at the amateur level in Toronto in 2008. The team, formed by Demitchev and Kadirov, both immigrants from Russia, stormed into professional soccer as an expansion team in the Canadian Soccer League in 2017. With high level players from Eastern Europe and local players with promise, FC Vorkuta has attracted a lot of attention while winning two Canadian Soccer League championships and three league titles in just four seasons. FC Vorkuta is today one of the top teams in Canadian soccer.
Demitchev, a Toronto lawyer, considers his club has been successful while partnering the Thornhill Soccer Club to select local youth for competition in the tough CSL, then continuing with a process that provides every opportunity for further development and eventually the all-important recognition of a player destined for an even higher game elsewhere. “Fadi Salback is living proof of what can happen,” he says.
Soccer in Canada has grown in leaps and bounds during the past 30 years with now more player registrations than hockey and more than baseball, football and basketball combined and there are signs that more high level players are emerging. Demitchev considers that aligning his club with youth soccer helps to make young special players more visible, and they are surrounded by coaching skills from abroad, all of which contributes to furthering the Canadian game.
Fadi Salback’s new-found success follows a number of CSL players that have made the grade at a higher level, including Jonathan Osorio from SC Toronto to Toronto FC, Paul Munster from London City to Slavia Prague and a number of others stretching back to Atiba Hutchinson who played briefly for York Region Shooters before moving on to play for the Toronto Lynx and five teams in Europe before joining his present club, Besiktas of Turkey.
Igor Demitchev and FC Vorkuta also believe the increased popularity of the game in Canada is about to pay dividends as more players surface for the highest level professional ranks in Europe and other parts of the world. Transfer fees are expected to exceed the recent Canadian record $46.5 million paid by French club Lille for Jonathan David of Ottawa. That fee was quick to eclipse the earlier fee of more than $20 million, which included bonuses yet to be earned, for the transfer to Bayern Munich of Alphonso Davies from the Vancouver Whitecaps of Major League Soccer.
In the meantime, the progress of Fadi Salback is of interest from a number of points of view, not the least of which is the rarity of a Canadian being signed in a country with limited opportunities for the abundance of local soccer talent attempting to enter a relatively small professional football structure.
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