Andre (Andrew) Hainault (FK Siad Most) has been voted the sixth best foreign player in the Czech Gambrinus Liga.
It's an incredible achievement considering he hasn't yet had his 20th birthday (6/17/86) and he joined his relegation bound team halfway through the season and helped guide them to mid table. I can only recall them losing one game in the second half of the season in which Hainault played. He participated in a Canadian national team camp in Florida recently and missed a game at FK Siad Most.
Tks to CDN4EVR at Vs for providing the link for the feature article on Andre by Hattrick magazine and a big thanks to Wilfrid Laurier at Vs for providing the translation.
I Love Soccer
Talent? He's got it without question. Calling him a star is still premature. "Why do you want to write about me?" he asked the reporters after his first game with Most, in which he decided the victory with a goal in the second last minute. Andre Hainault has decided to push himself into the Czech league, even though he comes from a country where even the meaning of the word "football" is different. They call the popular game soccer.
All of the winter transfers are done, the window in which players can change clubs ended long ago. In that situation, a Canadian youngster with red hair arrived in Most - he came to try his luck on the continent which he dreamed as the place to be among football icons.
And Andrew Hainault started well. He was only with the team for a few days but in the first spring game he came onto the pitch as a member of the starting 11. "When we were walking from the dressing room and went through the tunnel onto the ground I said to myself: somebody wake me up," he says unbelievably.
But his happy experience didn't end with that - the goal the Canadian defender scored on Slovacko right before the end decided the game for the home team. "That was too much for me", he said.
His new teammates made sure that his achievement didn't go to the Canadian's head. They gave him a big cultural shock. "For that goal I received a ticket!” Hainault says as he rolls his eyes. "At home for such achievements I get a reward!"
Even the unexpected ticket payment didn't ruin the happy ending of his story. Or perhaps it should be called an unbelievable sci-fi story. Hainault got to Most by chance, as an amateur. At the end of February he was representing Canada in England. The phone rang as he was boarding a return flight at Manchester.
"My agent called and said he's in contact with a Czech club. I said that since I'm in Europe already I should give it a try," smiles Hainault.
The young Canadian was recommended to Most by German agent Tobias Schade. He had planned to send Hainault somewhere else entirely. "My partner from Scandinavia called. There's a lot of Canadians playing there and we wanted to get Andre over there," explains the manager of Hamburg company Back-4 Sports. "But my colleague suggested a potential buyer in the Czech Republic. He said that it's a decent secure club."
The defender, who just recently got out of an amateur contract with his former club Montreal Impact didn't think twice about traveling to the Czech Republic. Besides, involvement in the Gambrinus league was recommended to him by Schade. "It's a great experience for a young player. If they are not yet ready for the Bundesliga or Serie A, they can play for a year or two," That's the German agent's opinion.
The leadership of Most on the basis of Schade's recommendation invited Hainault for a trial. The Canadian enlisted excellently. He had one training session and one game with the B team and immediately packed up and moved into the first team. "I told the leadership immediately to go after this one. It's very untypical," adds the Most coach Zdenek Scasny. At the same time he adds why he moved the redheaded youngster up so fast.
"He appeared to be self-confident. He has pace, totally on good footing. He's already played for various teams and is among the representatives for his country," he explains.
Hainault is also very strong physically. Upon meeting him at first sight it's clear that he's self-confident but at the same time he speaks humbly. And he constantly smiles. When he was at the club a few days and it became clear that he would start his first game, he was prepared.
"The coach called me the morning of the match and asked if I can play immediately, or if I would rather look on from the bench," he says how he learned of the possibility of starting. "Of course I told him I want to play. I want to play all the time," he says. "He asked how will I handle the atmosphere of the match? I mentioned that I represented the national team in matches in central and southern America and have experienced so much there that nothing can throw me off."
"He really surprised me nicely with that," says Scasny as he remembers Hainault's first start. "He impressed as well, as a person. I put a lot into character, and it was clear that he wanted to be organized and always asked me how we are playing."
The Boss Carries the Bags
The Canadian import flew into Central European nature like a (don't get this metaphor, something to do with a parrot). Already because of his story it seems that he'll be an inspiration in Most. "He plays all of the practices like games" noticed Petr Kabicek, president of the Most board of directors. Kabicek stayed close to Hainault during his first weeks, "I take care of him like my own kid, and we’re together every day."
The new recruit values his attention. "He's the boss of the club, but he helps me with my bags up the stairs" says Hainault, all amazed.
He got used to Most quickly. He comes from the town of Hudson not far from Montreal, so he doesn't miss the big city life. "Some of the guys say that Most is boring (loose translation), but I like it here. It's only one hour to Prague, so if I miss entertainment, I don't have far to go." says a satisfied Hainault.
It's as if he learned professionalism from childhood. He gives the impression that nothing will throw him off; he greets uncomfortable situations with an "American" smile. Maybe something could be found - he was the only one of the winter recruits who lived in a hotel and didn't find a house. "He had some requirements with that. He was mostly satisfied with the living arrangements but he didn't like the access (?)" admits Kabicek, as he remembers the Canadians face at seeing Czech apartment buildings. "But he said that he'll be happy if he can get as many sports channels as possible on TV," smiles Kabicek.
Hainault at the same time doesn't match the traditional ideas about Canadians. If you mention hockey to him he scrunches his nose. Names like Wayne Gretzky or Mario Lemieux don't excite him. "I chose football and fell in love with it. It's a wonderful game," and his eyes gleam with the same fire as the colour of his hair.
He did play hockey as a child - it's impossible to do otherwise in Canada. "I was a forward and pretty good. But it didn't interest me at all," he says shrugging his shoulders.
That's why on the whole, the worlds most popular game won out with Andrew. "Some of the kids in school laughed at me. I had some schoolmates who played hockey or American football and they said that football is for girls," he says with a grimace.
The European game perfectly engulfed him. He admits that the biggest use of his spare time was watching the prestigious leagues of the Old Continent, and he surprises with knowledge about the Champions League. While young European hockey players want to move to his home, he resolved to leave it and move himself to the East side of the Atlantic. "I dreamed of it since I was a kid," he says, his eyes lighting up.
And for the satisfaction of his obsession he suffered quite a bit.
When he finished middle school (aka high school), he had offers of football scholarships from several American universities. But he made up his mind - he wanted to go to Europe. The leader of the Canadian junior representation centre arranged a trial with French team Stade Rennes.
"I was supposed to go there, but I was only seventeen, so I had to ask for permission as a student for living arrangements. I had to get into a school and have acknowledgement that I was staying with a French family," says Hainault as he remembers his first steps into Europe. "I was there at the same time as Petr Cech but I didn't meet him."
Only a few days before his planned arrival there was a complication with the hosting family. One of their sons took the room in which the Canadian was supposed to live. "It was infuriating," and for the first time the smile disappears from his lips. "The arrangement of all the documents took two months and that family's signature was everywhere. And it was too late to find arrangements with another family," he frowns.
He underwent a marathon of other trials. He tried his luck with Hamburger SV, Derby County, Werder Bremen and Crystal Palace. "In total it was about eight clubs,"
Several times he was close to signing. Crystal Palace and Werder Bremen both wanted his signature but it was not possible because of administrative reasons. With the German team he didn't fit into the allotted number of foreigners outside of the EU, with the English team he couldn't get a working visa. "I applied too late. There was an Australian who applied just a week before me, he got it, and then they stopped giving them," he says with a shake of his head.
Hainault started to fall into despair. He's intelligent; he would surely be able to handle university studies. He had sacrificed his scholarship for his dream of moving to Europe. "I was mad. I wanted to give up and sign up for some America college...," he says dropping his eyes.
And that's where Most comes in. The Canadian signed a half-year amateur contract with a 2 year option on the side of the club. And further? You won't hear a comment that the north Czech club is just a quick stop on his career. "Most has ambition; they want to play in European cups. You never know what can happen," he says with significance, "I'm already ecstatic. During all of my failures I went through great disappointment, but now I'm experiencing euphoria."
He still has a lot to do to truly assert himself in Europe. But he's surely accomplished the first step towards the fulfilling of his dream.
Career In A Nutshell
What's the situation with his name? In all the media, even the official internet site of Siad Most he's introduced as Andrew. His first name however sounds French and officially he's called Andre. "I'm Andre. My friends and acquaintances started calling me Andrew so I got used to it," he says shrugging his shoulders.
The bearer of this schism, Andre Hainault, was born on the 17th of June, 1986 in Montreal. To add to the confusion, his mother is Susan Torbet who divorced Robert Hainault when Andrew was nine. Stepfather Erik Wagner was then responsible for his upbringing.
1992 The schoolboy Hainault decides to play football. Thanks to good performance he gets into the city selection Hudson Hawks.
2000 He's called for the first time into Canadian representation at the U-15 level against El Salvador.
2002 Through the Lac St. Louis Lakers he got into the team of the Montreal Impact. The Impact play in the United Soccer League, a Canadian-American competition one rung underneath MLS
2006 He changed his two year old Amateur contract with Montreal for the same type of contract
CSA Player Profile