June 14, 2024

Jonathan David of LOSC Lille traveling from Haiti to the UEFA Champions League’

Jonathan David of LOSC Lille is constantly reminded of his progress in the game of football by hearing the UEFA Champions League song. According to the 22-year-old, “it gives you goosebumps and, you know, it makes you realise you’re at the top of the game right now,” during an interview for FedEx’s Next In Line, a series that features upcoming talent.

The Canadian international hasn’t ascended to the top by the direct road. He was born in New York, moved to Haiti when he was a toddler, and then, at the age of six, immigrated to Canada with his family. It took him a few more years before he became interested in “soccer.” “We used to play football, American football,” he remembers. I started playing football when I was ten years old. My father chose to just place me on a team.”

Watching Ronaldinho, Didier Drogba, Samuel Eto’o, and Thierry Henry play in the Champions League sparked David’s curiosity, but it was Ottawa Gloucester’s coach Hanny El-Magraby who encouraged him to pursue his dreams. “When we started when we were 11, the message he gave to our group was, ‘I’m trying to develop players to play in Europe,'” David says. “Not to go to the MLS academies, but go to Europe and make a career.”

David signed a contract with Gent, a Belgian team, at the age of 18, after Magraby used video footage to pique the attention of European clubs in his players. David had trials with Salzburg and Stuttgart. He started playing first team football in less than seven months, and in August 2018, he scored on his debut against Zulte Waregem as a replacement. “There was a cross, and the ball came back to me. I just finished, and it went in,” he recalled. Furthermore, I believe that I was not even aware of my own thoughts at the time. It was just utter happiness.”

Before being recruited by LOSC in the summer of 2020, David finished his career with 30 goals in 60 league games in Belgium with Gent. The forward adjusted well to the change in difficulty, scoring 13 goals as his team unexpectedly won the French league. “As the season went on, we just found ourselves at the top end, and we knew we still had to play Lyon in one of our five last games,” David explains.

“This game may have been the most memorable of the entire campaign. losing 2-0 and then winning 3-2 after a comeback. We probably realized in our hearts that we would win the league this year when we prevailed in that game.”

The tale of LOSC’s group stage

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