Radzinski ready to rejoin Canada

Tomasz Radzinski, Canada's $10-million man, is ready to rejoin the national soccer team after a two-year absence.

The Everton striker says he will play for Canada in a Nov. 14 friendly in Malta.

"Three years ago, I decided not to come out for the international team any more," Radzinski was quoted Thursday on the Everton Web site.

"The reasons were the long trips and for me the priority was club football. But we had an agreement that once Canada played any games in Europe, then I would consider going back to the national team.

"In two weeks time, there is a game in Malta which doesn't involve me missing any games for Everton and I have decided to give it a chance again."

While Canadian coach Holger Osieck has yet to announce his team, it appears the Malta game will end a period of estrangement started when Radzinski failed to show up for a series of Gold Cup qualifying games in the U.S. in October 1999.

While Canadian officials were appalled at Radzinski's 1999 no-show -- chief operating officer Kevan Pipe of the Canadian Soccer Association said "His actions are an insult to his teammates, his coach and the country." -- Osieck needs someone who can score goals.

Canada has just two goals in its last 12 outings.

But the Malta game may not mean Radzinski is back for good.

"It is too early to say at the moment if I will play after that date," he said. "The reason I am going is to have a conversation with the national team coach eye to eye and not on the phone.

"That will give us the chance to see where the future lies for me and playing for the national team."

And, perhaps not surprising given the vehicle he chose to announce his international comeback, Radzinski told the Everton Web site he will not let national team duties affect his club play.

"Playing for the national side is an important part of any footballer's game," he said. "They are always important games that you play and your level is going to go up.

"But saying that, the long trips were affecting my performance on coming back to Europe and that is definitely what I want to avoid."

Radzinski, 27, has represented Canada 13 times.

His last appearance was in 1997 against Jamaica.

Since then his club career has flourished.

He moved in Belgium from modest Germinal Ekeren to Anderlecht, where he led Belgium in scoring last season and turned heads by scoring against the likes of Lazio and Manchester United in the Champions League.

He moved to Everton in July for 4.5 million pounds ($10.1 million Cdn).

A hamstring injury delayed his debut but he has two goals in four appearances to date.

By Neil Davidson