Kent O'Connor, a 17 year-old defender from West Vancouver, has been signed to the youth section of German Bundesliga club 1860 Munich. He follows in the footsteps of Owen Hargreaves, who left Calgary at about the same age to join Bayern Munich.
"One of the problems in Canada is that once you reach a certain age there's not much to do to in terms of development," O'Connor said in an interview this week."Canada's young players actually are quite good, coming through the youth systems, but you reach a certain point where you've got to travel abroad to develop further."
Going overseas to develop skills and competitive instincts is nothing new for Canadian soccer players. Bob Lenarduzzi of North Vancouver, a former player and national team coach, recalled leaving home at 14 to join the English side Reading, an experience he doesn't regret, although he noted it's not a move for every youngster.
The 5-foot-11, 170-pound fullback apparently displayed an offensive flair while playing for the Canadian under-17 team last year in Minnesota during a three-game exhibition series against U.S. and Mexican teams.
O'Connor will train with the Munich 1860 reserves and also the under-19s after he gets to Germany. He wants to progress enough that he can train with the first team by the end of the season. "By the end of next season, hopefully I will have made an appearance with the first team and go from there," O'Connor said, noting his contract runs for 30 months. "I'm going now because the transfer window opens in January."
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