Three Canadian players have paved the way for Alphonso Davies to emerge in the Bundesliga. We have taken a look at three former CanMNT players, who have played in the Bundesliga.
One of the most wonderful things about football is that it’s truly an international sport. While there are national teams that include only the nationals of their respective countries, the more popular and active club sector is a mixture of different nations and countries.
This level of diversity is beneficial for both the clubs and the players alike. For the former, it allows the selection of the best players that run on the football courts all around the globe, and for the latter, it’s all about having the best opportunity among the best.
So, to specify our focus a bit more, let’s take a look at Bundesliga and one of its main contributors – Canada. Now, Canada isn’t entirely a football country having produced legends such as Leo Messi, Christiano Ronaldo, Pele, etc. It’s more famous for its ice hockey teams, as well as their passionate fans whose love for gambling with PlayAmo Canada and other providers also translates into their frenzied sports betting attitudes.
However, it’s not to say that there haven’t been Canadian football players of any significance. Just to take a look at the current situation in Bundesliga, there’s this Canadian player Alphonso Davies who has just recently enlisted in Bayern Munich, making his first appearance under the red shirt in June 2019 against Hoffenheim.
Now, Davies isn’t the only Canadian having a chance to play in one of the world’s greatest football leagues. In fact, there have been three legendary Canadian players in the Bundesliga who practically paved the way for the 19-year-old.
Let’s take a look at each of them, where they came from and what was their significance for the Bundesliga.
Paul Stalteri is undoubtedly one of the craftiest football players in the world. His career started in Canada, obviously, after he debuted in his hometown’s club Toronto Lynx in the A League. Shortly afterward, specifically – on August 12, 2000, he swapped the league, some would even say – upped his game, by moving to Germany for the club Werder Bremen.
Stalteri has actually become the first Canadian to ever play in the Bundesliga. And his debut in the match against Energie Cottbus was quite glorious, ending in a 3-1 win for Werder. The Canadian went on to express his gratitude, claiming that while he always expected the fortune to come for him, it would never occur to him that it would happen right in the first game of his first season.
In his 14-year career, Stalteri was an incredible wingback, as well as a midfielder, and his accomplishments weren’t only recorded in Bundesliga: he had 84 appearances in Toronto Lynx’s matches, which is still considered the second-highest in the team’s history.
And to go back to Bundesliga, he has almost always been in the starter ranks of Werder for five seasons straight which, to be fair, produced some real results: the Canadian player helped the team win the so-called “Double” – both German Cup and the Bundesliga title.
In 2005, Stalteri was transferred to Tottenham, then in Fulham in 2008 for a loan, and a year after, in 2009, he returned to the German league until he retired in 2011. He was undoubtedly one of the greatest additions to the Bundesliga from Canada.
Since we’re talking about Stalteri, it’s worth mentioning another Canadian player who actually crossed fists with him. Kevin McKenna was playing youth football (soccer in Canada) in Calgary when he suddenly realized that his dream lay on the other side of the Atlantic. So, he crossed the ocean and landed in Germany with Energie Cottbus.
And here’s where he and Stalteri met one another. At the time, in the opening of the 2000-01 season, Energie Cottbus faced off against Werder Bremen, where Stalteri was playing as a wingback at the time. Therefore, the two players are both the first Canadians to play in the Bundesliga.
But unlike Stalteri, McKenna’s career didn’t take off as gloriously as he’d hoped. In Cottbus, the Canadian central defender had a few opportunities to present himself. And after a handful of appearances on the court, he decided to leave the team for Scottish Hearts in 2001.
However, the Bundesliga still wasn’t over for McKenna. In 2005, he returned to Energie Cottbus, now as a team captain, and brought some significant results as well: he helped Cottbus win a place in the 2006-07 season of Bundesliga. Two years afterward he signed a deal with FC Koln, managing to raise the team to the Bundesliga level one more time.
Parallel to his career in Germany, McKenna also was a regular head starter for the national team of Canada, having scored 11 goals in 63 caps. Eventually, McKenna retired from football in 2014.
Julian de Guzman
Julian de Guzman was an active Olympics participant when he found his way in professional football. Having gloriously finished the Olympique Marseille’s youth competition in France, he quickly moved to Germany to sign a contract with FC Saarbrücken, a second-division team.
But he wasn’t to stay in the lower ranks for too long. When Hannover recognized de Guzman’s skills and form, they signed a contract with him in 2002, allowing the Canadian player to move to the real Bundesliga.
For three years, de Guzman was one of the stars of Hannover, and the experience he got there made a huge impact on his subsequent career. In 2005, he moved to the Spanish La Liga for Deportivo La Coruna. It was actually there where he achieved fame and popularity as the best midfielder of the first division of Spain.
Even in Canada, de Guzman was considered one of the best players the country has ever produced – he still is known with that title in the country, having recorded the highest number of appearances at 89. And while he served just three years in Hannover, the experience received from Bundesliga was exactly what kickstarted him as a legendary Canadian football player. He finally retired from professional football in 2016.