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    ccs-54-140264005706_thumb.jpgThis column will have nothing to do with European soccer. Sorry about that, but this is still something I have to write.

    On Wednesday, Teal Bunbury will be suiting up for the US national side in a friendly in Cape Town, South Africa. As a visitor to this site, I'm sure you're well aware of the Bunbury case, as it's been written about by just about every other blogger here. The last thing you need is another voice weighing in on the matter.

    You're going to get one anyway.

    [PRBREAK][/PRBREAK]

    I grew to love this sport in a very different way from many Canadians. My parents are not of European descent (despite my ridiculously German-sounding name), and thus I didn't have any direct familial ties to soccer in that continent. Nor are my parents from a Latin, football-loving nation.

    In fact, my family is from one of the few countries on Earth in which football is not king, which is probably why I took such a liking to Canadian soccer at an early age.

    My father-son soccer stories are dominated by trips to Varsity Stadium in Toronto, Centennial Park in Etobicoke, Brian Timmis Stadium in Hamilton, and so on. I was raised on the Canadian game in the 80's, a time when a truly Canadian league was thriving (at least from the player development standpoint).

    As diehard Toronto Blizzard supporters, my dad and I almost always sat in from of the Blizzard's humble supporters section. Not too different from its direct descendant U-Sector, the Blizzard supporters group stood at the back of Varsity, then Centennial, merrily chanting and having a good time supporting their side.

    As a young father, my dad wasn't too worried about the salty language coming from the "rowdies" behind us, in fact he would join in a lot of the time. As a young kid, I was hooked for life.

    The Blizzard's chief rival in the CSL days was the Hamilton Steelers, a dominant team led by a brash young striker from Montreal. For four seasons, the extremely gifted goal-scorer would toy with Toronto, scoring seemingly at will.

    The Blizzard supporters would zero in on their antagonist, both at Centennial and on road trips to the Steelers' home "stadium" in Ivor Wynne's shadow.

    That Hamilton player was, of course, Alex Bunbury.

    In pre-game warm-ups and throughout the Hamilton-Toronto games, the Blizzard supporters would sing for the Steelers' young talisman.

    Bunbury's a wanker! (clap, clap, clap-clap-clap), Bunbury's a wanker! (clap, clap, clap-clap-clap)
    .

    Alex would revel in his hecklers' attention, hamming it up, scoring goals, and inviting more scorn.

    Those Hamilton-Toronto derbies quickly became my favourite part of the season, and Alex always did his part.

    In the 1990 season, after growing into the role of chief antagonist for the Blizzard supporters, Alex switched sides.

    Toronto traded for the striker, presumably in the "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" frame of mind.

    All that was left was to see how the rowdies would accept their most hated opponent into their ranks. The answer came immediately before the Blizzard's first home game, when they started singing for their side's newest star in the pre-game warmups.

    Bunbury's not a wanker, Bunbury's not a wanker... na, na, na, na, hey! Na, na, na, na, hey!

    Alex laughed and acknowledged his new admirers, a smile on his face from ear to ear.

    Of course, his tenure in Toronto was short-lived, lasting only a year before he moved on to hometown Montreal. From there he headed to Europe, where after an initial stumble with West Ham he went on to shine at Maritimo in Portugal, where he is still beloved to this day.

    And he became a Canadian national team legend, one of the greatest strikers to have ever donned our humble red and white.

    When Teal starting breaking into the Canadian set up as a teenager, some Canadian fans were understandably excited. Tall, powerful, quick, and gifted with both his head and his feet, Teal possessed the same raw tools that his father displayed a decade previous.

    Born to an American mother and having been raised mostly in the U.S., he started drawing interest from the American program while still playing for Canada's U-17 side. Teal would have nothing of it though, stating on numerous occasions that he was proud to wear Canada's colours and that he felt Canadian.

    "I was born in Canada and I would love to play for the country I was born in. I think it would be an honour," Bunbury

    told CBCsports.ca back in January.

    "For me, I was born in Canada, I have a lot of family members there, and it would feel wrong for me to play for the U.S. I feel a connection with Canada."

    After one year of playing in MLS, with his dad's old club, his "connection with Canada" was apparently weakened to the point that he could accept a call up to the U.S.

    Upon reading the news of his defection, I was immediately taken back to that song the Blizzard rowdies used to sing for his dad before Alex joined Toronto.

    Bunbury's a... Yank.

    (Cross-posted from U-Sector.ca)



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