It is with great pleasure that The Voyageurs wish to announce TOMASZ RADZINSKI as their International Player of the Year for 2008.I don't normally consider parroting a press release worthy of a blog post, but I'll make an exception for the Voyageurs. My ballot for this award was 1-Radzinski, 2-Gerba, 3-de Guzman, which is either a sign of how well-balanced I am, or the type of groupthink that reigns on those forums.
For the 35 year old striker this award recognizes the inspiring contributions made during 2008's World Cup Qualifying campaign along with the continuing goal scoring successes which Mr. Radzinski has been enjoying with his club side Lierse S.K. of the Belgian 2nd division and his previous club in 2008, Skoda Xanthi SC of the Greek top flight.
Being blessed with the faults of being too outspoken and too honest for his own good has done little to dampen the Wee Man's growing popularity with Canadian soccer fans over the past several years as Mr. Radzinski has used his seniority within the Canadian Mens National team to publicly act as player advocate as well as enthusiastically promoting the sport of football both at home and abroad.
Easily the most famous Canadian footballer of this generation, Mr. Radzinski has lived a charmed life these past several seasons escaping serious injury while producing impressive goal scoring results in both Greece and of late, Belgium. No small achievement for a footballer who has seen both his career and on-field role evolving with the advancing years.
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Last years run away winner of the International Player of the Year award, Julian de Guzman of Spanish top flight side, Deportiva la Coruna finished a strong 2nd in polling after enjoying another wonderful year in 2008 which included recognition from the players, fans, and staff when he was named Depor's Player of the Year for the 2007/2008 season. The first time a Canadian has been so honoured at such a high level.
Ali Gerba's impressive play, and equally impressive goal scoring exploits during World Cup Qualifying did not go unnoticed during voting. Strong performances with the national team, including home and away goals against Mexico, out weighed the near invisibility to Canadian fans which comes with playing club football with English League One side Milton Keynes Dons and allowed the striker to finish a comfortable third in polling.
Radzinski celebrating. And yes, this is a real thing that you can buy!
The award is a fitting send off for a player who recanted and returned to the Canada squad late in his career (or to put it biblically), and has likely played his last match wearing the half-soccer ball/maple leaf. And that last match, by the way, was a doozy.
I voted Gerba for the CSA's fan choice award, and am waiting with baited breath for the announcement this week of the winner. (At last count, Julian de Guzman had a healthy lead in the voting after De Rosario had taken a puzzling lead in the early voting). Perhaps that announcement will provide with a chance to make a final, clean break with 2008 and begin talking about the present. You know, instead of dwelling on one of the darker years (which come every 4 years, incidentally) for the national side.