Former Whitecap Patrick Metcalfe finds his toes — and a trophy — enjoying overseas

Patrick Metcalfe has discovered the place he belongs proper now: in Fredrikstad, Norway, enjoying within the high tier of the nation’s soccer ladder.

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“What the hell simply occurred?”

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That was the headline on Norwegian media web sites and newspapers after Fredrikstad all however punched their ticket to the highest flight of Norwegian soccer for the primary time in additional than a decade.

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“What the hell simply occurred?”

That was Patrick Metcalfe in an Oslo grocery retailer, observing a wall filled with meals with indecipherable labels and making an attempt to transform Kroner to Canadian {dollars} in his head, all only a few days faraway from leaving the one dwelling he’d ever recognized in Richmond.

The previous wouldn’t have come with out the latter, and the latter wouldn’t have come with out Metcalfe persevering with to do what he did with the Vancouver Whitecaps — persevere.

Flashing again to 2017, the yr he joined the Caps residency program, and the Caps had simply killed their WFC2 program, opting to becoming a member of USL aspect Fresno FC in an ill-fated improvement partnership a yr later. It meant there was no clear path for Metcalfe to progress; he performed with the TSS Rovers and UBC Thunderbirds, and even contemplated giving up his skilled ambitions.

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However he determined to stay dedicated to the Caps, returning to the fold with the U23 group in 2019, and was rewarded with a first-team contract a yr later. The trail was clearer, however no simpler, and he fought to get enjoying time with a group that then didn’t hand out many minutes to residency merchandise not named Davies or Bair.

It was unsurprising when the group parted methods with the ball-moving midfielder after the 2021 season, and Metcalfe was as soon as once more at a crossroads. This time, he took the fork he hadn’t anticipated to — to Norwegian first-division group Stabæk.

Patrick Metcalfe
Patrick Metcalfe has been a key cog for FFK of their promotion to the highest tier of Norweigan soccer for the primary time in 11 years. Photograph by harry johamsson /jpg

He helped the Blues to the top-tier Eliteserien, enjoying key cog of their autumn run up the desk, however when it was made clear he’d be preventing for minutes the next season, he left for Fredrikstad (FFK). In his first yr of his two-year contract, he began 87 per cent of their video games and once more was very important within the historic membership’s return to the Eliteserien.

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“I by no means had a full season enjoying as a daily starter, enjoying recreation in recreation out. In order that was one thing that I used to be form of desperately in want for the membership of mine,” stated the 25-year-old. “I needed to construct a little bit of a resume and get these video games and that have below my belt. That’s one thing that I simply couldn’t get since I grew to become a professional in 2020.

“(In Vancouver) I used to be extra simply taking it in and completely satisfied that I’d achieved my lifelong aim of changing into knowledgeable. … However if you’d like longevity, particularly if you’re simply beginning your profession and also you wish to preserve progressing and going ahead, groups are gonna need gamers which have performed video games. It’s one thing that, as a younger skilled, you must discover as early as attainable.”

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Up till his transfer to Oslo-based Stabæk, Metcalfe had all the time lived at dwelling along with his mother and father, Robert and Susie. He needed to FaceTime his mother to learn the way to cook dinner rooster and boil rice — which he’s now fairly competent at, he provides.

“Being out of your consolation zone is one of the simplest ways to develop,” he stated. “I went to the grocery retailer not understanding what something means, and it was actually tough. I’m taking a look at that the cabinets, I don’t know what any any of the phrases imply. I’m trying on the costs and it’s all in Norwegian Kroner, so I don’t know what meaning. Every part was laborious. Every part was completely different.

“… The language is so completely different that it virtually sounds prefer it’s alien,” he laughed. “However fortunately everybody speaks English right here, so it’s not a giant deal.”

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Now within the historic fortified metropolis of Fredrikstad, dwelling to one of many extra picturesque floating cities in Europe, he’s develop into one thing of a giant deal.

The FFK Aristocrats are coached by a Mikkjal Thomassen, a unyielding disciplinarian and taskmaster. As soon as the Faroe Islands worldwide retired from enjoying, he turned to teaching, main KÍ Klaksvík of the Faroese Premier Division to quite a few trophies and titles, in addition to changing into the primary group from the tiny island territory to the Europa League.

Beneath his steering, Metcalfe switched from his typical function as a No. 6/8 to a right-sided wingback, a place that calls for excessive conditioning to play — particularly if you’re enjoying almost 90 per cent of the group’s video games.

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“Our coach is a really, very demanding supervisor,” stated Metcalfe, who had a aim and 4 assists this season.

“He was very on me about getting my physique weight and my physique fats decrease … he had me tackle a wingback function the place I might have the physique to dash and to run extra down the flank. He’s a man that he expects you to work 100 per cent whether or not it’s in coaching, whether or not it’s the place you’re consuming, how lengthy you’re sleeping, or on the sector, how a lot you’re sprinting. He calls for and expects the very best out of you. If it’s something in need of that, you’re undoubtedly going to listen to about it, whether or not it’s in entrance of the entire group or by your self on a cellphone name.

“And you’ll’t fault him due to the success we’ve had. This season has been superb. We solely had two losses. I believe plenty of that’s as a result of calls for he places on us as gamers, individually and as a gaggle.”

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Team Celebration
Streamers fly because the FFK Aristocrats have fun their promotion to Norway’s high flight and their first-place end within the first division. Photograph by FK Fredrikstad /PNG

FFK clinched promotion with 4 video games to go, after which clinched the primary division title with one recreation left. The ultimate regular-season recreation noticed Metcalfe arrange the one aim in a 1-0 dwelling win over Jerv, adopted by fireworks and a trophy celebration. A day later, the group and hundreds of followers had a nighttime torchlit march from the stadium by way of the streets to an enormous tent within the centre of city, the place the celebrations continued for your complete weekend.

“It was superb,” stated Metcalfe. “Traditionally, it’s the second-most successful membership in Norway, however that they had gained rather a lot in just like the ’60s and ’70s. The city has been form of dying for the group to have the success that they noticed a long time in the past.

“And that was my first trophy or first time successful one thing as a participant. As a soccer participant, it’s very laborious to win trophies and plenty of gamers go their complete profession with out successful.”

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Thomassen let his group have some enjoyable, however isn’t letting off the gasoline. On Friday, two weeks after the season ended, Metcalfe and FFK head to Sweden to play a pleasant in opposition to top-division aspect IFK Göteborg. It’ll be a brief, one-month low season, earlier than reporting again to obligation for a three-month (!) pre-season earlier than play resumes in April.

“The aim is to work as laborious as I can within the low season, come again match and attempt to retain my spot as one of many core gamers. I do know when groups get promoted, they’ll make investments rather a lot into the group, so I’m actually hoping to be a core participant for subsequent yr and play as a lot as attainable,” stated Metcalfe. “With that, hopefully (I’ll be) on the radar of the nationwide group once more. For any Canadian participant, the 2026 World Cup is one thing that all of us dream to be part of, particularly with it being in Canada and the U.S. So I (will preserve) climbing the ladder and staying constructive.”

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