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Player to Watch: Iain Hume (from FIFA)

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Player to Watch: Canada has an exciting option in Hume

19 April 2004

by FIFAworldcup.com

A mixture of Scottish fire and Canadian optimism, striker Iain Hume has become a marksman to watch as the Canucks get set to embark on a gruelling 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™ qualifying journey. Known for his killer instinct, thirst for battle and hairstyles as interesting as they are varied, the young Tranmere Rovers player may well be the ace up Canadian coach Frank Yallop’s sleeve.

Born in Edinburgh to Scottish parents, Hume moved to Ontario just after his first birthday. Fourteen years later he returned to the UK when Tranmere Rovers took advantage of his British passport to snap the teenager up after spotting his ability at the Canadian Soccer Academy in 1999.

The striker could have played for Scotland, but even with a hybrid brogue thick as the Highland mists Hume considers himself Canuck through and through. “It wasn’t much of a choice,” he told FIFAworldcup.com. “Playing for Canada just made sense, I am Canadian.”

Scottish blood, “Canuck Style”

One year after signing with Tranmere, at 16 years and 167 days, he made history by breaking the record of Liverpool legend Dixie Dean as the youngest player to wear the Rovers’ colours. Since then, he has appeared for Canada at the FIFA World Youth Championships Argentina 2001 and UAE 2003. The striker scored six times for his English second division side last season and has been even more settled in the current campaign with a dozen goals overall in 38 starts.

Just 1.68-metres tall, 20-year-old Hume does not cut the most imposing figure. But his unquenchable desire to bulge the net and unwillingness to give up on even the most hopeless ball has earned him the adoration of supporters on Merseyside. True to his Scottish roots, the young striker, who scored three goals in five games for Canada at last year’s FIFA World Youth Championship, is as stubborn in the tackle as he is deadly in front of goal.

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When asked about the most important elements of the Canadian game, Hume hardly hesitates. “We just want to be as difficult to beat as we possibly can. We play that Canuck style; we go out there and work our tails off and fight and scrap in the Canadian way… we just want to go as far as we can and be the best we can be.”

One step from the Semis, twice

Thanks largely to the youngster’s winner against Swansea in the fifth round, Tranmere found themselves in the FA Cup quarter-final earlier this year. After a 0-0 draw with favoured Millwall in London, it was replay time at Prenton Park. And with many a bargain-hunting Premiership manager looking on in the stands, the Canadian sharpshooter looked the most impressive man on the pitch. Though eventually overcome 1-2, Hume’s brilliant work set up his side’s only goal.

Hume’s skill and emotion on the day made him hard to miss, but his unusual hair also made him unmistakable. Dyed white to match his jersey and with an orbital ravine shaved in a diagonal swath from the right front of his head to the left back, he looked a young man comfortable as the centre of attention.

Back in the Middle East last year when “Humey” and team mate Josh Simpson were leading Canada to another famous quarter-final (a first for any of the men’s teams), he also made a point of making himself easily identifiable to opposition defenders. His red and white-dyed Mohican was tough to miss, as was his blinding equaliser against Spain that sent the match to extra-time. Though the Canucks lost to a golden-goal, they were undoubtedly one of the revelations of the tournament

“As a striker, I just want to go out and get goals for the team,” he says. “If I get a few, then great. But really my only concern is the result for the team. As long as we win, that’s all that counts.”

Canada boss Yallop knows that with Hume ready to work for the Canadian senior cause, his options are significantly improved heading into their Germany 2006 qualifying opener against Belize in the exuberant striker’s adoptive home province of Ontario. Yallop is quick to place the youngster - who made his first appearance for the senior side against Libya in February - in line with some of the nations best attackers.

“When I look at the firepower we have up front, I don’t think that we should have any problems scoring goals,” the coach said. “We have dangerous players like Iain Hume, Dwayne de Rosario, Tomasz Radzinski and Paul Peschisolido.”

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