De Vos looks after his future

MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 10:01 AM ET

Preparation has always been one of Jason de Vos's strongest assets.

He always prepares hard physically, mentally and emotionally, wherever his soccer boots have landed.

And while the 32-year-old Appin native probably has a lot more good years left as a professional, he's preparing for the time when eventually he'll stop playing and take on whatever other challenges come his way.

De Vos, his wife, Rachael, daughter, Ella, and son, Jake, are splitting time between his parent's home in Appin and the house he's building in London.

He'll head back to England after this weekend to watch the World Cup and prepare for another season, this one as captain of Ipswich in the English Championship League. Two months ago, he signed a two-year contract extension with Ipswich.

He co-captained last year's team with Jim Magilton, who has become Ipswich's manager.

"We bought a house in Vancouver and our intention was to live there, because that's where Rachael's from," de Vos said yesterday.

"I told her I would happily live wherever she wanted if she would follow me wherever I played football."

But as they talked about life after soccer, plans changed. De Vos is working on an economics degree.

"I put it on hold when we had kids. There's lots of down time in football, but it's a pretty demanding career," he said.

"I wanted to use all my free time to be with the kids, so I put my academic career on hold for a while and use all my free time to be with the kids."

He thought about completing his degree at the University of British Columbia.

"But in rush hour, it's a two-hour drive from my home. So we looked at our other options and London came up," de Vos said. "It's a great place to raise a family and it's a big city now. Western has always been my preferred choice of university."

The six-foot-four, 200- pounder will continue to patrol the middle of the defence, hoping he can lead Ipswich to a place in the English Premiership.

"(Two years ago) we came within two points on the last day of the season to promotion. Last year was tough. We finished mid-table, an underachievement in my mind. We should have finished in the Top 8. But we used a lot of young players and the experience will help this year.

"I was pleased from a personal standpoint. I feel like a grandfather at times. I'm by far the senior spokesman with all the 18- and 19-year-olds we have. I played 40 of 46 games. But the first game I played, I broke three ribs and missed the next six games . . . I played the rest of the games through some injuries."

De Vos is a soccer warrior. He captained Canada's national team for many years before retiring from international competition in 2004 to give younger players a chance.

He's the consummate professional. Teams need that type of player to bring the younger players along and to help through difficult times.

De Vos has lived through difficult times in his profession. He's travelled to some of the nastiest places in the world to help Canada gain a World Cup berth. His last attempt was heartbreaking. Two losses to Honduras when they were leading late in the game, including a phantom penalty call against Canada, spelled the end of the dream for Canada and de Vos.

He's played in 49 full internationals, scoring four goals. He was named a tournament all-star for the 2000 and 2002 CONCACAF Gold Cup tournaments. He scored the winning goal in the final of the 2000 Gold Cup, a 2-0 win over Colombia.

He'll be watching the World Cup when it begins today and, like many, believes it's Brazil's to lose.

"The last qualifying campaign was very hard emotionally for me," he said. "We know we have a good enough team to qualify and if we did, we're capable of playing at that level. We have so many players in Europe and playing at a high standard, there's no reason why we can't expect to compete.

"But it's a question of experience. The two games against Honduras we were up 1-0 at home and away from home and when you have a bit of experience under you belt, you know when you're up 1-0 with 10 minutes to go, you get 11 men behind the ball and defend for your life.

"We had a terrible penalty call against Honduras in Edmonton, but truth be told, we never should have been in a situation to give up that penalty."


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