Hojabrpour Details Forge Move: ‘Best For My Career’
When Pacific FC original Alessandro Hojabrpour scored the title-winning goal for the Tridents in a CPL Final less than forty days ago, few would have imagined it would be his last big act in purple.
The 22-year-old midfielder made one of the biggest intra-league transfer moves in league history this week, officially signing with the Forge side he’d scored against that day. His shock move to Hamilton sent ripples from coast-to-coast, with his former club expressing disappointment in the intra-league switch.
Alessandro has plenty of love for his former team, but his eyes are now firmly set on his new chapter in orange.
“You always want to watch the top teams,” he told Marty Thompson on the latest episode of the CanPL.ca Newsroom. “so throughout the past three years I’ve been watching a lot of Forge’s games and I’ve seen their players. Obviously you step onto the field with them, and you see their quality as well.”
From what Bobby Smyrniotis told Kristian Jack, it looks like Alessandro will come in as a proper addition rather than a specific replacement for an outbound player. The head coach expects that the club will be in a position to provide a roster update in the very near future, noting that most of the club’s players are expected back. Some like Kwame Awuah may depart for higher levels while one or two from the front line (like Mo Babouli) are expected out, though the bulk will return.
With the midfield expecting to stay intact, that means that Alessandro will join a group of highly-touted players like Kyle Bekker, Elimane Cisse, and Alexander Achinioti-Jonsson. His versatility in the middle of the park gives Bobby a lot of options, so fans can likely expect to see him feature in a few different roles alongside them throughout the season.
“He can do a little bit of everything in that midfield,” said Smyrniotis, “I’ve seen him grow as a player and play in different roles over the past three years. He’s a guy who can play as a six, he can play as an eight, he can play further up, and the way we rotate he can go into a box midfield. We look at his intelligence on and and off the ball, and he’s another excellent piece there.”
The Forge boss has kept tabs on Alessandro ever since he caught his eye as a 19-year-old in the league’s inaugural season, though Smyrniotis recognizes that there are some elements to his tactical game that he would like to see refined. 2021, he says, marked Alessandro’s biggest season of year-over-year growth and ultimately led to the head coach expressing interest.
“The biggest thing I saw in his game this year is that he became a much more physical player in being able to battle and win things in midfield and when he dropped back. He got a different edge to his game: he went from being a youth player to a full pro is the easiest way to put it.”
While we still don’t know when those communications really got going, Alessandro says that it the choice to make the intra-league move between last season’s finalists wasn’t taken lightly, or quickly. That means that by the time the 2021 CPL Final took place, Hojabrpour knew that he was playing against a side interested in signing him – and boy, did he give them a reason.
“When they expressed interest, obviously you have some doubts moving intra-league. You don’t want to surprise too many people. It took a lot of thinking, it’s not a decision that was made within weeks. It took months to decide what was best for me, but ultimately taking in all the pros and cons, this is what I thought would be best for my career.”
With Hojabrpour and Campbell both departing at the same time, the transfer will likely remain food for thought for CPL sides who keep core talent on one-year deals. While doing so gives the club crucial roster flexibility in a salary cap league, it also opens up the possibility of having key talent poached.
Now arriving to Tim Hortons Field less than forty days after he scored a title-winning goal against his new team, Alessandro is eager to challenge himself in a new environment. While he was happy out west, this new venture was all about perspective, adaptability, and breaking out of surroundings that had started to feel too comfortable.
My whole life I’ve been raised playing on the west coast, being taught in the same type of style in the Whitecaps program and even the two Pacific coaches learned their trade in that program, so it’s going to be a different idea of playing, maybe different coaches criticisms that I can look forward to. As a young player, you want to be well-rounded. For me, that’s my goal – I’m going here to become an even better play to grow my game.Alessandro Hojabrpour
While Pacific FC’s announcement of Alessandro’s departure expressed disappointment in his decision, his now-former coach Pa-Modou Kah clarified that there was no ill-will between them. All is good on Hojabrpour’s end, too.
“Pacific was probably the three best years of my life in terms of football,” he reflects, “I have no hard feelings towards them, I loved my time over there. The city was nice, and the fans were great. It was a good time and it was good from my career. I went from being a kid in a professional team to a man at the end of it, and it ended well.”
It goes without saying that the next time Forge plays Pacific, it’s going to be a heated affair after both Alessandro Hojabrpour and Terran Campbell switched over to the two-time CPL champions. It’ll be a learning experience, but that’s the core of his motive to move in the first place.
“I’m not someone who always wants to be in a comfortable situation. When you’re getting pushed and out of your comfort zone is when you become the best player that you can, and that was my motivation behind the whole thing.”
While Forge FC is set for a high-profile Champions League matchup against Cruz Azul next month, Alessandro told Marty that the premier continental competition wasn’t the ‘ultimate deal-breaker’ that some fans might have thought. With Pacific having qualified for the Concacaf League, he was set to experience continental action if he’d stayed.
“It’s a great opportunity,” he does admit, “and I’m sure myself and the rest of the team and organization will attack the opportunity to play that game fondly. We’ll go into the game knowing we can show ourselves, that we can play, and that we can try to win.”
The Hamilton-based side is expecting to have players begin checking in for medicals next week, with Smyrniotis hoping to have about four weeks of preseason training ahead of the two-legged cup tie against Cruz Azul. That gives Alessandro a good window of time to acclimate himself to his new surroundings before his potential debut next month.
Rated as a player with a high ceiling who has improved significantly since joining the league three seasons ago, it’ll be interesting to see how Hojabrpour fares in the new environment. It’ll be a cold open in February.
“My mindset going is what can I add and bring to an already-powerful team. Honestly, I’m just looking forward to getting a new perspective on coaching, playing, and different kinds of teammates.”
Source: CanPL Newsroom