Attardo: Europe Is My Long Term Goal
It’s been a rollercoaster two years for Tyler Attardo: the 19-year-old Winnipegger earned his first professional contract by impressing Valour FC head coach Rob Gale at an open trial, eventually forging his way to a blistering rookie season which saw him finish as the CPL side’s second-best goalscorer behind Marco Bustos.
Building off that momentum, Attardo attracted interest from Europe, but the transfer window closed before he could capitalize on the opportunity. While he was set for a second season with Valour, his agency arranged for a transfer to Chilean side Fernandez Vial, who signed him to a long-term deal with the idea of brokering a move to Europe themselves at a later date.
The move cemented Attardo in CPL history as both the youngest player to attract an as-yet-undisclosed transfer fee, and the first Canadian Premier League athlete to complete a transfer to South America.
Now one season after he drew applause from an audience that averaged 5,335 strong at IG Field, Attardo was recently loaned to Cypriot Second Division side Xylotymbou, which calls a 3,000-person village of the same name home. It’s known for its abundance of small chapels and a nearby sovereign overseas British military base. Suffice to say, it’s a big transition for Attardo, but he says that’s all part of the plan.
A brief announcement of his signing by Xylotymbou appeared to indicate that the teenager signed to the Cypriot side on a permanent move, but Attardo states that he’s arrived on a two-year loan deal. Once the offseason arrives, he’s expected to be shopped around in Europe with his parent club, Fernandez Vial, brokering a move as was originally stated by his agent.
While the home ground for Xylotymbou is a far cry smaller than the 30,000-seater IG Field he scored three home goals in last year, from what he’s seen the level of play in the Cypriot Second Division represents a strong new challenge for the youngster:
Overall, I think the level out here is better. Obviously, there is a lot of talent in the CPL and I think there’ll be more talent as the years go, but I think that in Cyprus in the second division league there’s lots of talented players. It’s a league that has been around a lot longer, and a lot of players come here to develop and grow their game. For me, so far from what I’ve seen it’s better out here, but that’s just my first impression.Tyler Attardo
If no move comes to fruition in the next two years, Attardo will return to the Chilean side and, as it so often is in football, says it’s difficult to plan what to do that far ahead. Ideally, he’d like to build his way up to Italy, where he holds a passport and had previously spent time in Verona with the youth setup at AC Chievo.
Attardo states that he has no plans to return to Canada in the near future, but did state that if at some point he or his agents felt like that would be the best move for his career, he would be open to a return home:
I hope to have a long soccer career, so I don’t think in the near future my plan will be to go back to Canada. I’m hoping to say in Europe to build my game and develop here. I don’t want to close any doors, though. If I feel like the best thing for me is to return to Canada, then that’s what I will try to do.Tyler Attardo
Attardo isn’t the only Canadian teenager to find himself on a two-year loan: last week, Pacific FC announced that Emil Gazdov had joined FC Nurnberg on a two year stint, with the 17-year-old expected to train with the academy side as he builds experience in overseas.
While Valour FC sometimes deployed Attardo on the left wing – a choice made by necessity, given the club’s struggles with injuries across the inaugural campaign – the Manitoban states that Xylotymbou is playing him as a central striker. It’s his preferred position, and best for his development.
While the arrival of the Canadian Premier League means that many of Canada’s next generation have options to play at home, Europe represents a siren call for Attardo that he can’t ignore, and both Chile and Cyprus are a part of that step. Still, he admits that leaving home at such a young age isn’t without difficulty:
It’s not easy leaving your family and your friends. You’re accustomed to being home, you know the city and you know how to get around. The focus on football – playing is one thing, but to have all this other stuff, it makes it more difficult. For me, I’ve settled in pretty quick and I’ve been used to playing away from home, so it wasn’t too much of a leap for me.Tyler Attardo
Having only recently made his debut for Xylotymbou, Attardo likely has a long road ahead of him regarding his overseas journey. If he can impress scouts over in Cyprus, he could earn his long-planned stint Europe for the years to come – though it remains to be seen what ultimately unfolds for the youngster.
Back home, Valour FC has impressed this year with a strong performance at The Island Games, with Rob Gale expecting much of his core roster to return for the 2021 Canadian Premier League season. This month, both Andrew-Jean Baptiste and Masta Kacher have committed to the club for the upcoming year.