Homecoming for Eddie Edward as Ottawa Fury begin fall campaign
No more divided loyalties as family and friends can now cheer for both Edward and the Fury at TD Place
On Sunday, for the first time in three years, Eddie Edward will play soccer at TD Place and not get booed by fans of the home team.
That's because, instead of playing for Canadian rivals FC Edmonton, he'll make his home debut as a member of the Ottawa Fury.
"I tell everyone the Fury has great fans, even when I was at Edmonton, and so it's quite comforting to know those same fans that were booing me are now going to be cheering for me," he told CBC Ottawa from the pitch at TD Place on Thursday.
I just felt like right now was the right time to come back home, to be with my family, to be with my fiancée and obviously to play with this great club.- Eddie Edward
The defender (who started playing soccer as a forward) was acquired by the Fury from Edmonton in early July after he requested the move for family reasons.
"I'm a family guy. I'm huge on family. I just felt like right now was the right time to come back home, to be with my family, to be with my fiancée and obviously to play with this great club," he said.
The tuck shop at Lansdowne had better stock up on Edward jerseys ahead of the Fury's noon tilt against Rayo OKC on Sunday, because his family members and friends have historically shown up to games by the dozen, in full FC Edmonton garb.
"My family, they're super excited to be wearing the red and black and so we're all looking forward to this weekend for sure," said Edward, who began his competitive playing days in Ottawa.
"I'm obviously very happy. It's kind of a surreal feeling. And I'm not quite sure if it has completely hit home yet. I think maybe this Sunday when I'm out on the pitch and I see the fans and the game's going on it'll probably all hit me at once."
"A lot of people tend to call it Far-haven. I disagree. I think it's probably one of the better places in Ottawa. Growing up I went to St. Pat's elementary school, then I went to Mother Teresa and then to St. Joe's when they built it later on," Edward said of his upbringing in Barrhaven.
Edward is Ottawa's most accomplished local soccer export. And he spent a lot of his development at Lansdowne Park.
"We used to play here every weekend when it was just a dome for indoor soccer. And that's something we looked forward to a lot every weekend and so it's crazy to see what it has flourished to now," he added.
Edward was signed by FC Dallas of Major League Soccer before moving to the NASL in 2012.
Game day emotions
Until Sunday, as a visiting player, Edward's games in Ottawa were a mix of trying to perform at his best for family and friends while not upsetting Fury faithful too much. Those days are over now.
How does he push all the other stuff aside? Well, his game-day ritual might help.
"I have a bunch of soca mixes. Soca dancehall. I'm kind of superstitious so I need to listen to that music at some point before I play."
"I don't want to find out."
Before the start of the Euro 2016 soccer tournament, Edward paid $10 to enter a pool with his former FC Edmonton teammates. He was the only guy to choose France to win it all.
And since France is in the final against Portugal, he still has a shot at cashing in.
"Nik Ledgerwood. The one who has my money. He better pay up," he said with a chuckle.