ALSO ON SLAM!
Saturday, July 15, 2000
Pound for pound ...
Canadian midfielder Jim Brennan finds a pot of gold across the pond
Take note, young soccer stars of Canada. There's big money to be had overseas and you're eligible to line your pockets pound by pound.
Jim Brennan is well versed in the big bucks to be had in England and he's reaping the rewards of his hard work as a youth.
Last season, the national team member became Canada's most expensive international player when he was transferred from Bristol City to Nottingham Forrest for a whopping 1.5 million pounds ($3.4 million Cdn).
The startling deal includes a healthy salary for the Newmarket, Ont., resident and a wealth of bonuses should Forrest earn promotion back to the Premier Division.
"I knew there was going to be speculation about me getting a move from Bristol City, but I didn't know how much it was going to be and I knew Bristol was asking quite a bit for me," said Brennan yesterday, shortly after the Canadian squad arrived in Edmonton for tomorrow night's World Cup qualifying clash at Commonwealth Stadium against Trinidad and Tobago.
"I didn't want to get involved in the whole situation because at the same time I was quite content at Bristol, but on the other hand I did want to move on.''
Original offers of 900,000 and 1 million pounds were turned down by Bristol's management who had recruited Brennan as a 17-year-old out of Toronto's Woodbridge Sora Lazio men's league club. When the deal was finally worked out, the dollar figure even caught the centrepiece of the auction by surprise.
"I couldn't believe it. I was very shocked, but everything went well and I don't think about it much. I'm kind of shy when it comes to talking about that stuff," said the five-foot-nine, 23-year-old midfielder, a former under-17/20 and Olympic side player who is joined on the Forrest lineup by T&T forward Stern John.
Though many of Canada's best talents have been fortunate to join elite clubs throughout the United Kingdom and Europe, Brennan leads the entire roster in prestige, thanks to his hefty transfer fee and the fact that he is one of key figures Forrest is counting on to guide the club back to England's top league.
Quite clearly, Brennan's past efforts are paying off and they mean a certain amount more coming from a nation where footballers aren't exactly the most recognizable athletes no matter how gifted they are.
"Nothing comes easy and I did have to work very hard for it, but the rewards are great and I've still got a long ways to go," he said.
"People look at it as Canada and do we even play soccer? I had a bit of pressure there and I have worked hard over here with the Canadian program. I went over there and everything's gone really well for me, but I had to work very hard for it.''
So Brennan has all of Canada's hopes on his shoulders as well as the high-pricetag expectations of the fickle Forrest fans. A lot to handle, to be sure, but it's a responsibility he welcomes with open arms.
"It's unbelievable. My stadium (The City Ground) holds 30,000 people and when it's sold out and the people are chanting, it's something all players thrive on," smiled Brennan, who has yet to score for Forrest after notching three in two seasons for Bristol.
"It is a great feeling, but of course, it's intimidating - sometimes it's very intimidating especially before the games when you walk around the pitch and everyone's screaming and yelling. But once you start playing you don't even notice it."