Thierry Henry made headlines for making the move to the MLS, but already situated in North America – Canada to be persist – was Brest born defender Hugo Delmaire. Currently playing in the Canadian Soccer League for Kingston FC the flamboyant defender took time out of his offseason rituals to chat exclusively for soccernightexclusive.wordpress.com about his 2012 campaign and his plans for the future.
First and foremost for all the readers who are unfamiliar with you, how would you describe your playing style as well as your strengths ?
I am a lateral defender who likes to communicate a lot. I have a tendency to pursue high up the field to support in attacks and I am not afraid to go down for a tackle on the defensive end.
I believe my strengths are my good vision on the pitch, as well as my passing accuracy and skills with the ball.
What age did you start and how did you get into playing soccer ?
I started playing soccer when I was 7 years old. It was just after the 1998 World Cup Final, when I was watching my birth country (France) win the competition at home, it was such a great motivation for me.
Have you always wanted to become a soccer player ?
Yes, since the beginning it has been my dream to one day play professionally.
During your growing stages as a soccer player who would you say has been your biggest inspiration and why ?
I would definitely have to say my parents, for all their support and time they’ve spent with me during those years. But, two other sources of inspiration would be the coaches who put faith in me and a player like Zinedine Zidane, because I like to watch other players and learn from them.
Being born in Brest France it is very unusual for French players to make the move to Canada. How did your move to Kingston FC come about ?
My parents made the decision to move to Canada when I was very young so I didn’t really have a say in the process. But I am very happy with their choice as Canada is now a part of who I am. This way I had the chance to play at University Level but I also had the opportunity to go back to France a couple of times over the years.
Do you miss France ?
At the moment I don’t really miss living there, but I would like to go back at one stage in my career to play soccer for a living. However if I had to name two things I miss, they would be being close to the rest of my family and also the soccer atmosphere. As here in Canada the national sport is still Hockey.
Kingston FC finished 14th in CSL with only 4 wins all season, how would you describe the season from a team perspective ?
I think that it has been hard for the players but also for the staff. It was Kingston FC’s first year in the CSL so I think that as a group we have learnt a lot during the 2012 season. We had a new coach (Colm Muldoon) come in mid-season so it took a bit of time to adapt to this kind of change. Near to the end of the season the players started to understand and have faith in the coaches style of play, so I don’t think you will see Kingston FC to that 14th position again during the 2013 season
Being a defender in a new team it must have been a learning curve of a season for you. How would you sum up your 2012 campaign ?
Indeed, this season was a great way to learn a lot of things. First of all, it made me stronger mentally because you have to keep training and be ready for every game. In the past couple of years, I was used to winning a majority of the games I played in, so it made me realise that nothing is perfect. But that success will come from hard work and dedication next year. On a personal point of view the staff of the club was satisfied with the consistency of my performance during the season so I should be back at Kingston FC in 2013 under a pro contract.
The CSL is vaguely recognised around the world, what is the standard of soccer like in the Canadian Soccer League ?
To be honest at first I didn’t know what to expect. The CSL is the 3rd tier of soccer in Canada after the MLS and NASL, the quality of teams and individuals is very good. To compare with the CIS (University Level) which is more physical, the CSL is more technical with a lot of quick passes and a faster tempo to the games.
How would you describe the quality of players playing in the CSL and do any in particular stand out to you?
I would say that to play in the CSL you must be talented first and foremost. But a couple of players stand out by their personal skills or simply by what they bring to their team. I wouldn’t be surprised to see actual CSL players in the MLS or somewhere in Europe in the next few years. Just to name two guys, I would say Thomir Maletic (Toronto Croatia Striker) and also Wandrille Lefevre (Montreal Impact Academy Midfielder).
Toronto Croatia eventually toppled the rest to win the CSL crown. What would you say is key to CSL success ?
The key to CSL success would be the consistency during the whole season but also the players who know how to play with each other. For example, Toronto Croatia have been playing together for a couple of years now, so this was probably key to them, when it came to winning back to back CSL titles. Lastly, a strong midfield is mandatory at this level, you need guys who can turn a game around.
The CSL is very much in its early days in terms of growth, how big can the CSL become ?
The league is now recognized as Canada’s only professional league as the MLS and NASL are sanctioned by the United States. The CSL could become a real national championship if they decide to add more teams from Quebec but also teams from western provinces if given the opportunity, in order for the CSL champions to compete in a Canadian Championship for a spot in the CONCACAF Champions League would enable good recognition for the league.
What will the club be looking to achieve within the 2013 campaign ?
I think that the club has high hopes heading into 2013. The staff are already working on getting new players from abroad but also re-sign the core of last season’s team. All the teams in the CSL know what we are capable of because most of our losses were by a very close margin. As a matter of fact, we are going to be more prepared next year, expect us to be a playoff contender.
Can Kingston FC overcome the odds and eventually be crowned CSL champions whether it’s in 2013 or in the near future ?
I am very confident we can achieve big next season. The club is putting a lot of effort into it so the players will have to show it on the pitch. We have a great coach in Colm Muldoon so we are going to be prepared for every challenge. We don’t need to look too far ahead, only one season at a time or if we want to succeed one game at a time.
Kingston FC are currently under the stewardship of Irishmen Colm Muldoon. What is he like to play under ?
Playing under Colm has been a great experience so far. He really knows the game and he has the quality to coach at this level or even higher. He used to coach in the New York Red Bulls Youth Academy, so he gives us great technical and tactical advice to develop as players but also to
be strong as a team at the same time. He’s very demanding physically but this will benefit all of us especially during the six month long season. Working hard on a daily basis is a priority for him so it is the same for all the players.
The MLS is undoubtedly the fastest growing league in world soccer. Is it a dream of yours to play in the MLS ?
Of course, it is my dream to reach the top level of soccer in any of the main soccer countries. In this particular case, among the years, I’ve played against several players that have made it to the MLS. So I don’t think it is too ambitious to say that if I keep working hard and progressing like I have been doing in the past few years, I could maybe one make it to the big league. I am a dream chaser.
Have you had any offers yet to become a part of a team in MLS ?
No I haven’t. But I believe that playing in the CSL will help me.
What team in particular do you follow in MLS ?
The New York Red Bulls because of Thierry Henry and all of the 3 Canadian teams.
From previous chats with you over twitter I notice you have been watching the playoffs. Who do you think will become MLS Cup Champions LA Galaxy or Houston Dynamo ?
I personally think that the LA Galaxy are going to become MLS champions again. It is a remake of last years’ Cup final so it should be an interesting game. But players like Beckham, Keane and Donovan are going to step their game up.
Currently all CSL are in their offseason. What do you usually do during your days within the offseason period ?
I am pursuing a Bachelor degree in Political Science and Communication so I have to attend school every day. But to stay in shape and be ready for the next CSL season I go to the gym 4 times a week and I’m going to play in 2-3 different indoor leagues during the winter.
Where would like to see your career in five years’ time ?
Ideally I would be playing in the MLS or in any first division in Europe. But if I am able to make a living from soccer in any other league I’ll be happy
What advice would you give to any budding youngsters looking to make a career in Soccer ?
If you’re not training, someone else is. So work hard because it will pay off one day… Believe in yourself at all time and never stop chasing your dreams.
Favourite Game You’ve Played In
My first professional was representing Canada at the 2012 FIFRA’s World Club Championship and playing against the undefeated and USA champions San Diego Shockers. It was a great game that I will never forget even if they comfortably beat us.
Favourite Goal You’ve Scored
It was during an U17 game when I was playing in the Super – Y league for the Ottawa Fury. We were playing down in the United States and the game was tied 1-1 in the second half. I was standing 25 yards out when I received a pass from a corner. I took a shot with first touch and the ball ended up in the right top corner. We eventually won the game 3-1.
Best Player Played Alongside
Mahir Hadziresic (Skilful player who can carry a team on his shoulders or turn the game around in a matter of seconds. I was playing with him for the Ottawa Fury, then he went out to play in Czech Republic’s first division. He is now also playing in the CSL for London City).
Best Player Played Against
Ze Roberto (I think that the word mistake isn’t part of his vocabulary, he was always playing simple with one-two touches max and he never lost the ball).
Best Friend In Soccer
Francis Letourneau (We train together during the offseason and push each other to our best potential).
Team Supported Growing Up
Water / Gatorade.
Favourite Holiday Destination
Favourite TV Show
How I Met Your Mother And Any Soccer Show.
Hip Hop / Rap.
Favourite Christmas Song
None I can’t stand Christmas songs anymore (haha)
Favourite Christmas Film
Hobbies And Interests Outside Of Soccer
I enjoy playing other sports, listening to music, watching movies, spending time with my family and friends.
What would you do if you won $1million ?
Give some to charity, save a little bit for me and my family, then invest the rest towards soccer.
Worse Taste In Music
Worse Dress Sense
I would like to personally thank Hugo for his time and efforts during the interview process.