By Ottawa Sports Pages, For Louis-Riel Rebelles
His name is becoming known around the world, and Jonathan David’s international soccer stardom has the potential to grow even farther as he and his men’s national team mates have the chance to send Canada to the cusp of qualifying for the 2022 FIFA World Cup with a trio of matches on Jan. 27, Jan. 30 and Feb. 2.
In case you missed it, the striker from Gloucester just turned 22 and is approaching the all-time men’s national team goal scoring record, which was established by Dwayne De Rosario in about four times as many games as David has played.
The Lille OSC player is the top goal scorer in the French Ligue 1 and is in his fourth season as a professional footballer since his days of kicking it at the Louis-Riel Dome.
“At lunchtime, we’d always come play with friends for fun, even when we didn’t have matches,” David reflected in a Radio-Canada Sports interview in Lille. “We’d come play little games with the ball and everything – it was always so much fun.”
His coach with the Louis-Riel Sports-Study program Joé Fournier remembered that David was “extremely passionate.”
“He was the type of student that would show up early and would leave late because he wanted to get as much time as possible on the field with the ball,” highlighted Fournier, who jokingly apologized to David in the Radio-Canada video for all the times he told him to get going to class.
“As a teacher, I had to try to push you a little bit on that side too,” he smiled.
David played for the Canadian under-17 team while he was at Louis-Riel, but he didn’t stray far from Ottawa until he began his pro career in Belgium. The former KAA Gent player then joined Lille and helped them to their first French league title in a decade.
Off the field, David has become known as a dedicated and serious professional, while still remaining personable, courteous, humble and thankful – which brings Fournier plenty of pride since those traits match many of the Louis-Riel soccer program’s pillars.
It was the Sports-Study program that drew David to Louis-Riel, he recounted in the interview, noting that phys ed at most schools is more about recreation, but he was able to pursue his high-performance soccer objectives in a top-notch training environment during school hours.
“It helped me learn more about soccer, to practice more, and to get more touches than others,” David underlined, noting the program’s emphasis on strength training was also particularly valuable. “Joé helped us a lot too. It was a good program he setup, with good players. And he’d bring other coaches to help us too, really high-quality coaches who would come, from England, for example. The program definitely helped me a lot.”
Inspirational force for future generation
Alongside fellow Louis-Riel grad Vanessa Gilles, who won Olympic gold with the Canadian women’s soccer team this past summer, Fournier has noticed that David and their Team Canada counterparts have made young athletes into true soccer fans in recent years (whereas before, students would mostly follow only pro hockey).
“The national team that Canada has right now is really helping young players’ development because they’re very motivated seeing their performances, and Jonathan is a big part of that success,” Fournier noted during another report titled David Becomes Goliath. “His impact on soccer in Ottawa and Canada is huge.”
David, for his part, is more than happy to inspire aspiring players with his journey to the peak stages of the soccer world.
“If it can open doors for other young players who want to take the same path as me but maybe haven’t got the same chances that others have been given, maybe people will take a closer look at them to receive some of those opportunities,” said Canada’s #20, who lived in Haiti until age 6.
Canada plays World Cup qualifying matches on Jan. 27 in Honduras (8:05 p.m.), Jan. 30 in Hamilton vs USA (3 p.m.) and Feb. 2 in El Salvador (9 p.m.). Canada currently leads the regional qualifying standings through 8 of 14 games, with the top 3 of 8 countries advancing to the World Cup, and the 4th-place team earning a final chance to qualify against an intercontinental opponent.
Learn more about Louis-Riel’s Sports-Study Soccer Program at LouisRielSoccer.com.