A professional soccer player from P.E.I. who has just signed with a Canadian team for the first time credits the memory of his deceased brother for his own career success.
Mozzi Gyorio, 27, is set to play as midfielder with the Ottawa Fury FC in the North American Soccer League.
Born in the former Yugoslavia, Gyorio was raised in Stratford with his older brother Shaul.
'Every day I think about my brother and that drives me on — to make him happy, to make him proud.' — Mozzi Gyorio, pro soccer player
Their father Cshaba was a professional soccer player in Yugoslavia, so both boys started kicking around soccer balls as soon as they could walk.
"It was life. We lived it."
Shaul was killed in a car accident 15 years ago at the age of 17.
Gyorio was only 12.
While his brother's death was hard on the family, Gyorio said he decided to "live on with the memory."
He used it to propel his game from P.E.I.'s soccer pitches to Europe and the U.S. He turned pro in 2010, signing with the North American Soccer League's Tampa Bay Rowdies.
An 'honour' to play for Canadian team
"Every day I think about my brother and that drives me on — to make him happy, to make him proud," said Gyorio.
Before every game, as he's walking onto the field, Gyorio said it's as though he's telling Shaul, "Hey, I'm doing it and I'm going to keep working hard and we're in this together."
Gyorio said his father has also been a major motivator.
"He watches as a fan, as somebody who really just loves the sport. So he knows things that I probably can't see," said Gyorio. "So even when I play games now, it doesn't matter what level I'm at, he will always give me pointers and pushing me to improve."
Gyorio leaves P.E.I. on Thursday for a training camp in Ottawa.
"I'm excited. I've never played for a Canadian club yet," said Gyorio.
"There are actually quite a few Islanders in Ottawa — some of my friends, their siblings and even my parents can just rent a car and come up. So I've never been this close to just have people say, 'Hey, let's jump in the car and go visit.' And representing a club of the country that's given my family so much, really, and taken us in, it's going to be an honour."