Writer: Tony McGrath
Date:Thursday December 3 2009
Marcus Haber, is a young Canadian striker playing for the Vancouver Whitecaps of the United Soccer Leagues (USL) First Division and his current trial for West Brom is not the first time that the clubs have been linked.
The winged wonder Willie Johnston arrived in Vancouver after his West Brom career had finished and North American football was becoming hugely fashionable. Similarly, Carl Valentine, who played for Albion in the mid-eighties, played for the Whitecaps and managed the club years later when they were known as the Vancouver 86ers.
Sir Bobby Robson was player/coach of the Whitecaps historical predecessors, the Vancouver Royals, in their 1968 inaugural season playing in the North American Soccer League.
Now the young Marcus Haber is potentially making a move in the opposite direction and we wait to see how his trial develops.
Haber has represented Canada at the U-17, U-20 and U-23, playing as both a striker and a central defender. 2009 was a breakout year for the young Canadian as he was named USL First Division Rookie of the Year, as well as picking up the Newcomer of the Year and Fan Favourite awards with the Whitecaps.
In July 2006, Haber made the move to Europe when, as a 17 year old, he joined the youth set-up of Dutch Eredivisie club FC Groningen. After being released by FC Groningen at the end of the 2007-08 season, he trialled with English sides Leeds United, Hartlepool United and Gillingham FC, but didn't sign any contracts and returned to Canada in early 2009.
With a successful first season with the Whitecaps under his belt and experience internationally at various levels, the youthful striker is a player to watch and one that Canadian fans hope will continue to develop as a top class striker for club and country.
Does Marcus think he can make it in Europe?
"I guess the main message I have for young players looking to make the jump to Europe is to ask yourself how badly you want it. Soccer(football! - Ed) really has to be a love and a passion if you want to make it in Europe, because there's a lot of hard work and sacrifice that goes along with just playing soccer. I feel that players should really take a look in the mirror and ask themselves if this is what they really want to do, because if a player has enough drive along with the talent, then they've got a good chance to succeed."
What is his best position?
"My preferred position and where I feel most comfortable is up front as a striker. In past seasons, I was used as both a centre half and a striker with both the national team and my club. I have made the decision with my club to focus exclusively on playing striker, as this is the position I feel I'm the best at and where I want to pursue my future."
Here is a round-up of fellow Canadian fans and their comments on the potential move:
"Second place team in the Championship. Cool. As much as I'd love to see him in a Caps uniform it would be great to see how far he could go. Given his size, speed and touch on the ball he is a natural for the English Premier League (EPL). If he catches on with West Brom I hope they get promoted!"
"I'm happy for Haber and hope that he is offered a contract but I think its a bit of a leap of faith to suggest that the size, speed and touch that he exhibited in USL play will equate to an EPL career. Let's walk before we run and not forget he spent a year bouncing around europe trialing but not getting contracts from lesser clubs than WBA."
"I think he is most definitely a better player for having gone through a year in Vancouver. He really showed me something toward the end of the year but I'm not prepared to believe that he's suddenly become an EPL calibre player."
Everybody in Canada wishes Marcus well - he is not another Owen Hargreaves, who came from my current home town of Calgary, but the boy sure seems to have potential.
Enjoy the next few days Marcus, show 'em what you`ve got.
Date:Thursday December 3 2009
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