Gyaki nets major award

CAMERON MAXWELL -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 1:22 PM ET

Rack up another accolade for one of the nation's top young soccer players.

Calgary's Ryan Gyaki was named Canada's Youth Player of the Year for 2005 after his superb performance in the U20 world championships and world youth championship qualifying. The 20-year-old was thrilled when he heard the news and figures it'll help him with his career overseas.

"My dad told me on Friday night and it's an honour," said Gyaki, who plays with the Sheffield United first team reserves in England.

"It's relatively low profile in Canada but that's not the point, really. It's nice but it doesn't really matter much over here. But it does over in England for me.

"It's what people think over there and the name you can build up with it and what the agents can do with it."

In contests played for the CONCACAF qualifier last January, Gyaki tallied all of Canada's goals in a 2-1 win over Mexico, a 1-0 triumph over Honduras and 1-0 win over Jamaica. He then played well for Canada at the world youth championships, even though the Canucks didn't get out of their group.

The midfielder is quickly building up a name for himself in England but hasn't seen much action this season because of injuries which kept him in and out of the lineup last year as well.

"Guess what? I'm injured again. Those other ones were frustrating niggles but I did my ACL this year," said Gyaki, who was born in Toronto and moved to Calgary with his family when he was five.

"I played one game then injured it in training the next day. That was back in August-September, so now I'm hoping to get one or two games in at the end of the season here."

With the injury, Gyaki's had plenty of time to rub elbows with his Sheffield United teammates and absorb all kinds of tips and lessons.

"You train with the first team every day and you hang out with them ... they teach you a lot, especially when it comes to how to conduct yourself outside of football," said Gyaki, who has 17 caps with Canada.

"And with being injured there's a lot of $4-million players that have been through the same bad injury. So there's a lot of good guys over there and you'd never know they've got that much money with the way they act and how helpful they are."

When it comes to soccer in England, the passion is second to none.

For Sheffield United, which is currently second in England's League Championship, winning the league and moving up to the Premiership is worth big coin.

"If you win and go up, the team's going to make 40 million pounds ($82 million Cdn). Over here if the Flames finish last, what happens? Boo-hoo, big deal, but over there if you lose the league, there goes a big chunk of cash," said Gyaki.

"And the passion of the fans is unbelievable. It's minus-20 and you've got a stadium packed with 40,000 people. You just wouldn't get that in Canada."

Burnaby, B.C.'s Christine Sinclair was named female player of the year, Dwayne De Rosario, of Scarborough, Ont., was the male player of the year, while Oakville, Ont.'s Kara Lang was female youth player of the year. The winners are based on votes by fans and media.


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