Two weeks after arriving in Ottawa, Israeli soccer player Idan Vered, a forward, was practising in the snow and getting used to his new team, the Ottawa Fury FC of the North American Soccer League.
Vered was signed in March to add offensive depth to the squad. The Fury FC plays its home games at TD Place stadium at Lansdowne Park.
“He’s a dynamic forward, he’s quick and he can score goals,” said Fury FC head coach Paul Dalglish. “We’ve kind of got away from that target forward style of play and we try to have a system with three dynamic forwards, and he’s going to be a really good complement to our team.”
Vered, 27, played on Israeli teams – including Hakoah Amidar Ramt Gan, Beitar Jerusalem and Maccabi Haifa – before playing last year in Serbia for Red Star Belgrade in the Serbian SuperLiga. He is a graduate of Maccabi Tel Aviv’s youth academy.
The 10 months Vered spent in Serbia were not happy. The Serbian team didn’t pay its players their salaries and still owes them money.
“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” he said, noting how happy he is to be in Ottawa following that experience.
The five-foot-nine striker doesn’t mind the pressure to score goals.
“I play with a lot of pressure, and I like it. In Israel and Serbia, the fans liked me, because I gave 200 per cent,” he said, adding that he’s looking forward to hearing the fans chants and cheers.
“Soccer in the U.S. and Canada is getting better and better,” he said, “and I want to be part of it. It’s important for me to play. When the coach talked to my agent, I was very happy.”
Ottawa opened the 2016 season on April 3 in New York, a rematch of last November’s NASL Championship Final, and Fury FC hosted the expansion Miami FC in their home opener at TD Place on April 30.
Vered played 30 minutes in the first game in New York, “and now I’m getting better and better. I need a few weeks to get in shape, and then I’ll play more and more and more.” He’s also getting used to playing on artificial turf. “It’s my second time. It goes faster. After a few weeks, it will be OK.”
Vered said Manchester United and Barcelona are his favourite teams and named retired French soccer star Zinedine Zidane, and basketball legend Michael Jordan as his idols.
“I took the number 23 because of Jordan,” he said.
Vered’s girlfriend, May Ziv, is in Ottawa with him, and he says the couple looks forward to being part of Ottawa’s Jewish community.