Arfield: Born in Scotland, Playing for Canada

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By JACK HAZZARD

Gold Cup logoOne of the stories in Group A in the CONCACAF Gold Cup was French Guiana’s decision to start an illegal player — Florent Malouda — in its group stage game against Honduras. But perhaps the biggest story has been the surprising play of Canada, which on Friday night advanced to the quarterfinals for the first time since 2009.

Canada’s 0-0 draw against Honduras was good for second place in the group behind Costa Rica. Canada now awaits the results from other matches in the group stage, which concludes on Sunday, before finding out who it will play in Glendale, Ariz., on July 20.

As Canada, under its new coach Octavio Zambrano, tries to resurrect its long-moribund national team program, one of the key additions has been the plucky, tenacious winger Scott Arfield. The Burnley midfielder, who was born in Scotland to a Canadian father, gained a one-time change of association after having played on the youth international level for Scotland.

Before the match against Honduras, Empire of Soccer spoke with Arfield about his decision to join the Canadian team.

Asked about the move, he said: “I love it. It was obviously a hard decision to make about two years ago, and ever since I made the decision it’s had a snowball effect and every time I put on the jersey I’m extremely proud to do so. Every time I turn up, I feel that the decision I made was the right one.”

He said that his decision gives him a chance to play at the senior international level while also honoring his father, who had been lobbying his son to play for Canada.

“Ever since I was a kid [my father] would be buying into the jump to go down that path,” Arfield said. “Being born in Scotland, it was obvious that I would try play for them as I played for numerous youth levels. But when it came to that point in my career where it was almost a crossroad about where you want to go and what do you want to achieve, I thought the international stage was the next place for me to go and show people what I can do. It wasn’t that Canada came as a second choice. I made that decision because it was the right decision.”

He then addressed the proverbial question: Any interest in one day playing in Major League Soccer?

“I am so open to this,” he said. “I come over here, it is something new and fresh. You never know where your career is going to take you. I play at a very high level now and I’m still trying to get to the best I can be and every day is a school day and I’m 28 years old and I’m trying to different things with different people but I’m certainly trying to be focused on what I have to do at hand, but in the future I think I can see myself here.”