Atletico Ottawa Signs Canadian Full-Back Kunle Dada-Luke
The seventh Atletico Ottawa signing is now official: the Canadian Premier League expansion side has added 20-year-old right-sided full-back and midfielder Kunle Dada-Luke to its roster.
The new signing arrives after having departed from Danish second division side FC Helsingor this January. He had trialed and signed for the club in the summer of 2019, but ultimately failed to make an appearance for the team.
Prior to that, Dada-Luke was a product of the Toronto FC Academy. He would go on to make twenty-five appearances for Toronto FC III, which earned him a contract with Toronto FC II in 2018. He would then make five appearances for Toronto FC’s USL affiliate.
The Mississauga-born youngster also has experience with the Canadian national team youth program, having participated in a 2014 identification camp at the age of fourteen. He made two appearances for the Canada U-17 side during the CONCACAF Men’s Under-17 Championship in 2017.
Kunle is known for his speed both on and off the ball, and that’s something that Atletico Ottawa CEO Fernando Lopez specifically made note of during today’s signing announcement:
We are delighted to announce that Kunle will be with us this season. He will bring speed, control and balance to our defense and is an enormous talent that will grow in the CPL. We are very sure he will be a great asset for our squad.Atletico Ottawa Club CEO Fernando Lopez
The current Atletico Ottawa roster is skewing on the younger side, with Dada-Luke arriving four years older than the club’s youngest signing, Antoine Coupland. The club has also brought in 20-year-old utility man Malyk Hamilton, who can also slot in as a full-back.
In fact, that’s also where 22-year-old signing Michel Djaozabry can play comfortably in, so there’ll be ample coverage for the position. Djaozabry is also comfortable on the left, while Dada-Luke can also play further up the pitch.
Here’s what the club’s seventh signing had to say about signing for the expansion side:
Being part of a club with such rich footballing history like Atletico de Madrid is such a huge honour. I think what they’re doing branching out to the Canadian footballing market and establishing a club in Ottawa shows their dedication to finding the best talent all over the world. This just shows how big soccer in Canada is getting by drawing interest from big clubs like Atletico.
While the expansion side has exclusively announced Canadian players so far, the club’s scouting efforts are backed by Atletico Madrid, who have a database of potential hires all across the globe. The Canadian Premier League has also offered to help the club through its league-wide scouting partnership with 21st Club.
Atletico Ottawa will pick up where the Ottawa Fury left off when it comes to professional football in the nation’s capital, and will even play its home games in the same stadium. Exactly one month ago, the club announced former Atletico Madrid player Mista as the expansion side’s first-ever head coach.
I think this is a wonderful opportunity for a new league like the CPL to have one of the biggest clubs in the world have a team competing in the league. It will be really exciting to play back home in Canada in front of the fans at TD Place. I can’t wait to get to work and put on the colours of Atletico Ottawa.Kunle Dada-Luke
With seven players now on the books, it’ll be interesting to see how the roster fleshes out as the second-ever CPL season approaches. The Atletico Ottawa squad has already arrived in Madrid for preseason, and will open its inaugural Canadian Premier League campaign against reigning champions Forge FC on April 18.
With veterans like Ben Fisk and Ricky Gomes ready to lend their experience to youngsters like Dada-Luke, Coupland, and Djaozandry, it’ll be interesting to see how the fledgling side competes against rosters who start off with an advantage of player familiarity.
The length or financial details pertaining to Dada-Luke’s contract were not disclosed by Atletico Ottawa.
Header Image Credit: Canada Soccer