Chance of a lifetime for Calgarians

CAMERON MAXWELL -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 1:04 PM ET

Imagine getting a chance to play shinny with Wayne Gretzky. That's what it's going to be like for 20 Calgarians today when they match up against some of England's finest footballers in the Legends of Soccer event (1:30 p.m., 'Dome).

The Calgary Selects and Calgary Masters represent the two all-star clubs taking on the Liverpool and Manchester United Masters teams, featuring legends such as Phil Neal and Viv Anderson.

And for Youssef Tarraf, the chance to rub elbows with some of his soccer idols is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

"I don't remember the last time an event like this has come to Calgary, or Canada for that matter, and I don't know when it'll come back around. So a lot of the guys are seizing the opportunity and it's very exciting," said Tarraf, 31, who will suit up for the Selects as they open against Man U, while the Masters play Liverpool.

It's a round-robin event, with each club playing a minimum of three games.

Tarraf, who is currently an unregistered player, played club soccer in Calgary with the White Eagles and Callies and said he can't wait so see how the Calgary boys match up against the legends.

"They've been competitive their whole life, so I'm really curious to see how we play against them," said Tarraf.

In fact, there aren't many Canadians, period, who have had a chance to play with or against England's best in the Premiership.

Currently, there are only two Canucks toiling full-time in the Premier League, Toronto's Tomasz Radzinski with Fulham and Jim Brennan, another Torontonian, at Norwich.

Manchester United's Viv Anderson says it's just a matter of time until more Canucks find themselves in England's top league.

"(Canada's) an emerging country. I think with us coming over here to play football indoors, the next generation of kids will take this on board and you never know. The Premiership is the place to be at the moment and Canadian football will be good in the next few years," said Anderson, 48, who was the first black man to play for England in 1978.

As a former assistant manager with Middlesbrough, Anderson nearly acquired Brennan after seeing him early in his career.

"I saw him play at Ipswich. We nearly bought him when I was at Middlesbrough. We went to see him at Bristol City, then he ended up going to Nottingham Forest and now Norwich and he's doing very well there," he said.


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