The Canadian Soccer corner: Peschisolido’s lost identity

(In the spirit of continuing to bring SBI readers a diverse range of soccer news, we will now be offering The Canadian Soccer Corner, a weekly column on matters pertaining to Canadian soccer. Former SBI correspondent Duane Rollins, he of the excellent site The 24th Minute, is back in the SBI fold and will be providing us with a weekly look at the world of Canadian Soccer. Whether you are Canadian or American, the segment should be both informative and entertaining. Here is the first installment.)

By DUANE ROLLINS

There is something fitting about the naming of Paul Peschisolido as the manager of Burton Albion. After all, when a club’s been around for 59 years and has never had a sniff of the Football League, people tend to be dismissive of it. And such was always the case with Peschisolido – undersized, only around because he married well and way, way too Canadian to ever be worth paying attention to.

But yet he stuck around forever. Playing 15 years and 520 league and cup fixtures, he managed to score 137 goals, mostly in the Championship. All and all not a bad little career for a guy few ever gave much thought to.

In a way Peschisolido was the epitome of a Canadian player. He had to fight for everything he ever got and he never really gained any attention or respect for his accomplishments. He’s more known for marring Birmingham City’s managing director Karren Brady than anything he ever did on the pitch.

So it makes perfect sense that he would start his managerial career in a forgotten outpost. After all, no one important was going to give the little Canuck much of a chance.

But in a year that has been tough on Canadian soccer supporters, Pesch’s appointment is being viewed as significant. Not only will he be the first Canadian to ever manage in the Football League (former Millwall manager Jimmy Nichol was born in Hamilton, Ont., but did not spend any significant time in the country), but he’s a guy that was long associated with the ups and mostly downs of the Canadian national team. He bleeds maple syrup, or something like that.

Except maybe he doesn’t. Appearing on 5Live Football Daily, Peschisolido was asked what it meant to be the first Canadian manager. His answer was not what the nationalists wanted to hear.

"Well, I don't really feel Canadian anymore to be honest," he said without a hint of shame.

And really, how could you blame him? He’s lived in England his entire adult life, he’s married to a British woman and he makes his livelihood in the UK.

He probably doesn’t even like hockey anymore! Canada isn’t his home now. It’s just a place he visited occasionally to lose mind-boggling frustrating World Cup qualifying games to Trinidad and Tobago in front of mostly indifferent crowds.

But still, as a supporter of the game in Canada, there is something sad about hearing that. And it speaks to the challenge the northern most country in CONCACAF faces. Without a league to call our own, Canadians must leave the country at an early age if they have aspirations of playing professionally. In Pesch’s case he had to leave Canada after the Canadian Soccer League folded in 1992. He’s never really been back.

Things might be changing now. The TFC academy is up and running and the Vancouver Whitecaps have one of the best development programs in the region. But, it will be a while until Canadian fans see the results internationally.

In the meantime more players like Peschisolido (or Owen Hargreaves, or Jonathon deGuzman, or…) will end up feeling something other than Canadian. And that’s, no matter how understandable the reasons may be, a shame. After all, Canada needs guys like Peschisolido to hold onto a little of their hoser-ness if it is to ever get ahead.

Canada is an enigma in CONCACAF. It’s rich, interest in the sport is growing and hundreds of thousands of people play the sport. But yet the country struggles internationally. I will be exploring the issues that haunt the game in Canada – along with some of the things that are giving us Canucks hope – in a weekly Canadian column exclusive to SBI. You can always reach me at dgrollins@gmail.com, or through my website The 24th Minute (www.24thminute.com).

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28 Responses to The Canadian Soccer corner: Peschisolido’s lost identity

  1. einar says:

    even though I only root for USA and colombia and peru cuz those r my nationalitys. I always root for canada during world cup qualifiers cuz it would be nice to see them there finally. I always remembered Pesch as a solid striker and now i would be suprised if tomasz radzinski will forget he is canadian as well.

  2. Will says:

    Interesting read. It brings to mind Jonathan De Guzman and how players forced to leave at an early age to pursue their soccer career end up adopting their new country having spent most of their formative years there. Hopefully the academies in Canada are able to develop more players and have them represent us down the road even in their pro careers take them over seas.

  3. chupacabra says:

    Canada . . . meh.

    Why waste time discussing a country that’s dismantling its Navy?

  4. Jay says:

    I havent seen that name in a long time. He played for the KC Comets in the MISL in the early 90s. He was very young then, like a teenager.

  5. mikebsiu says:

    Pretty good player, almost made it to the Premiership with Sheffield United.

  6. BJR says:

    Does this mean he’s no longer scared of the dark?

    Nice piece, by the way.

  7. yankiboy says:

    Interesting piece. Makes me wonder would it would take to make me not feel like a Yank. I sort of get where he is coming from but in someways I hope to never fully be able to understand it. Especially not after he represented his country internationaly…

  8. Reid says:

    I can’t help but think canada is where the US was 15-20 years ago (loads of people enjoy it but don’t really follow the game). Being a canadian american, I will always root for US first, but canadian soccer is always something I pull for.

    Looking forward to my first experience of canadian club football this weekend up in Toronto.

    Can’t wait for the head of canadian soccer to get their shite together and maybe they can even progress faster then US has these past 2 decades.

  9. gaucho says:

    Nice first post and looking forward to the feature.

    I have family in Canada so I’ve always taken a little more interest in things Canadian than the typical American. I’ve always been surprised at how poorly Canada has done in WC Qualifying. It seems like the boost that the Canadians get at home is nowhere near the boost than just about every other country with the talent that Canada has gets.

    And when I look at the list of clubs where Canadians ply their trade, it makes no sense why they can’t at least make the Hex on a regular basis. Likewise for Canada’s Gold Cup results, which always seem to outclass their WCQ placing.

    Reid is about right, but I’d go back a few years further. USA mid-1980s is roughly Canada now.

  10. Rudi says:

    Canada . . . meh.

    Why waste time discussing a country that’s dismantling its Navy?

    Posted by: chupacabra | May 20, 2009 at 12:19 PM

    ———————————————

    Perhaps because this is a soccer blog, not a military blog.

  11. …or a King of the Hill blog ( as an aside, I never realized anyone spoke French in Guelph)…

    Thanks for the feedback guys. It`s appreciated.

  12. mikeyg says:

    Truly thought they had a great team on paper this go-round. DeRo, DeGuzman, Radz, Hume — I think they just needed a better defense. And a decent front office woulda helped.

    Even DeRo complained that the fed didn’t give a crap about them.

  13. A. Ruiz says:

    Can we have a Mexico blog, we need to complete the NAFTA trifecta. It’s only fair.

    Anyway, Canada would have the best midfield in CONCACAF if they have Jonathan and Hargreaves playing next to to Julian and Dero. That would be honestly scary to play against.

  14. AllNats says:

    Nice to see the Canada coverage, I look forward to more in the future.

  15. kpugs says:

    This was a good piece, bodes well for the future of this feature.

    Having gotten that out of the way, Iain Hume and Will Johnson are scumbags, and if there is ever a feature on Mexico on this site I’m going to jump off a tall building. I want to read about Mexican football as much as I want to get my arms and legs ripped off.

  16. For the record…typo marring Karren Brady should be marrying Karren Brady…although if you are going to make a typo you might as well make an amusing one.

  17. PanchoMiguelMoralesdeConejo says:

    “Can we have a Mexico blog, we need to complete the NAFTA trifecta. It’s only fair.” There’s plenty of Mexico coverage here and elsewhere,(try Luis Buenos coverage) rarely to we get an insight into the GWN.

    Nice piece and count me as one of those who would love to see Canada do better…as long as it was not at the expense of the Yanks…

  18. Matt in Louisville says:

    Good piece. I think the same principles apply to the US as well. So many people are pushing for 14 and 15 year olds (or younger) to move to Europe. Wouldn’t you feel British if you spend your entire teenage and adult years in England? I would. I’m sure it’s different for each person. This is the catch-22 of living in a country where soccer is not a major sport.

  19. AltiCooper says:

    Even as a U.S. citizen I have always had interest in Canadian soccer. Its growth will be fun to watch over the next 10-15 years

  20. RLW2020 says:

    i can’t believe that Montreal Impact did not make it to the MLS. that would have been a great addition to the league and step up the gateway of players coming out of canada.
    — from what i understand montreal turned down the offer from the MLS because of the fee? is this correct?

  21. LD says:

    Iain Hume is world class, I remember him torching the US defense in the last Gold Cup. He is a way better striker than Altidore.

  22. Rote Armee says:

    Excellent post. Look forward to more.

  23. Sean Monaghan says:

    hahahaha LD couldn’t agree more. 2 goals in 21 games for Canada and plays for Barnsley. SOOOOO much better than Jozy Altidore

  24. TFC Gooner says:

    Hume is lucky to be alive after taking a fierce elbow to the head and sustaining a severely fractured skull early this season. I will always remember his performance in the 2003 U20 World Cup when he almost put Canada into the semis over Spain when he hit a free kick off the post late in regular time. Hasn’t achieved the same form with the MNT though.

  25. jloome says:

    Canada . . . meh.

    Why waste time discussing a country that’s dismantling its Navy?

    Posted by: chupacabra | May 20, 2009 at 12:19 PM
    ———————-
    Actually we haven’t had a Canadian Navy, per se, in over three decades, since the almagamation of the army, navy and air force into the Canadian Forces.

    Inaccurate and irrelevant. Twofer!

    San Diego Crew, OK!

  26. Dominghosa says:

    BJR! HAHAHAHA! Nice.
    But I bet he’ll still offer you a doughnut if you bump into him.

  27. Dan says:

    Really interesting feature. Watched Pesch for a good few years when he signed for my team Fulham. He gave us great service, was a brilliant finisher and helped fire us to promotion. On top of all that, he was a lovely man too, always keen to take to the young fans and younger players at the club.

    I really hope he does well at Burton Albion who were promoted into the Football League at the end of the current season. Could be a baptism of fire for Pesch though.

    Really enjoyed reading this site. Keep up the good work!

    Dan (a British Fulham fan from London)

  28. S says:

    IMO say whatever you want about the past of the CSA but the future (thanks in part to TFC/Whitecaps/Impact and MLS) looks bright! Let’s just figure some (stuff) out and get the funding we need.