In the footsteps of Jonathan David

Humility and determination: That’s the recipe behind the success of Jonathan David, Lille’s striker from Ottawa, who is turning the heads of European clubs and coveting young Canadians ahead of the 2022 World Cup.

At his former college in the Canadian capital, everyone already knows the “one who can play in Europe”.

“If you want to talk to him, Jonathan’s there,” jokes Joe Fournier, who supervised him during his studies, pointing to a human-sized sign of the Canadian forward displayed behind the reception.

Under the large heated dome that houses the practice field, Jonathan David is everywhere: on the walls with one of his selection jerseys, on the equipment thrown with Team Canada and on the lips of all the students.

“It’s inspiring to know he’s playing here,” said 15-year-old Nathan Aquilina. “It gives hope.”

Born in Brooklyn to Haitian parents, young Jonathan spent his early years in Haiti.

“I remember the house and I started playing football there,” the player, who has few memories of the period, told AFP. “I had friends near my house and we always played together, in the garden or on the street. »

“It was the smallest, it was funny to watch,” her older sister Chrissy recalls with a laugh.

A few years after moving to Ottawa, Jonathan was younger than his teammates when he joined Sport-études de Louis-Riel soccer.

“But it never bothered him,” Joe Fournier said.

Very shy by nature, ‘Johnny’, nicknamed here, ‘revealed his true self’ as he confided in his program director.

“He always wanted to have the ball, he always wanted to play football at mealtimes,” she recalls with a smile on her face. “I had to push him to class. »

“It was my goal to become a footballer,” he recalls, now the man desired by Europe’s biggest clubs, saying that he understood “that it is possible” in his first years in the national team.

European dream

Jonathan David’s nickname “The Iceman” is not due to the harsh Canadian winters, but to his “humble and competitive” character, emphasizes his lifelong coach Hanni El-Maghrabi.

Surrounded by youngsters from the neighborhood where he continues to train, Jonathan David’s teacher remembers a player who was “very comfortable and calm with the ball” and who “had football in his heart”.

For years, from club to club, the latter took him to training when his parents could not. Together they shared the same passion for sport and this dream of Europe, “the ultimate goal”, says the man to whom Jonathan David owes everything, humbly.

It was on his advice that the Canadian turned down several offers from national clubs when he was still a young player without a professional academy.

“Montreal, Toronto and especially Vancouver were interested,” recalls his agent Nick Mavromaras. But David’s ambition remained in Europe.

Despite two failed attempts in Salzburg and Stuttgart, he “kept his confidence”, adds the agent, who saw a positive in those semi-professional years in Canada.

“From the age of 16, he played alongside 25-year-old men, which allowed him to develop his physical game,” explains a man who has followed him since his teenage years.

“Hope for All”

The house where Losk’s number 9 grew up is about a fifteen-minute drive from the big domes where he trains.

Jonathan spent most of his free time in a suburban housing estate with his childhood friend Benay Tesfaye.

“We used to ride bikes on this road before we used to swim, play basketball or play tennis,” says 22-year-old Benaiah Tesfaye.

“If you don’t know him, he turns into someone very intimidating,” adds the friend. “But he’s a fun-loving, fun-loving dog. »

When the Canadian international is in Ottawa, he takes the opportunity to help his former coach’s soccer academy, where every year the neighborhood youngsters await him.

“He represents hope for all young Canadians who play soccer,” said Hanny El-Magraby. “But there is hope for them that they understand what made Jonathan David so successful, which is his mentality, his humility and his character. »

“Success is everything: there is talent, work and also luck,” says the young Canadian player, adding that “the concept of taste is very important.”

“Even if it’s our job, we must not forget why we started playing: because it was a passion,” he says, confirming that Qatar, which started on the streets of Haiti, will carry the colors of “great pride”. host country

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