Jason DeVos driven to grow soccer in Canada

Canada's Jason deVos celebrates after scoring during a World Cup qualifying match against Honduras...

Canada's Jason deVos celebrates after scoring during a World Cup qualifying match against Honduras at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton on Sept. 4, 2004. (QMI Agency/Files)

MORRIS DALLA COSTA, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:01 PM ET

LONDON, ONT. - His goal was never about earning a living at playing soccer.

Yet that’s what he did.

He never thought about making Canada’s soccer Hall of Fame.

Yet he accomplished that as well.

What he really wanted more than anything was to represent his country at a World Cup tournament.

Jason deVos never managed to get to his No. 1 goal.

But befitting his measure as a man and a true Hall of Famer, deVos intends to work as hard as possible to ensure other Canadian players don’t face that same disappointment.

The London born defender will be inducted into Canada’s Soccer Hall of Fame in June.

He had a Hall of Fame career on the pitch and now he’s doing the same kind of job in the broadcast booth and as a builder in the game.

It’s about hard work and determination, something deVos sweats from his pores.

At 39, deVos has won his fair share of battles, including the big one. Not many Canadians manage to survive the climb up the professional soccer ladder.

He began at 15. During his career he captained Canada’s national team including Canada’s greatest international triumph, a Gold Cup win in 2000. He also captained Dundee United in the Scottish Premier League, a rarity for any foreign player. He played in the English Championship league with Wigan and Ipswich.

After his retirement in 2008, deVos became a broadcaster. He is now staring down the convoluted, archaic and dysfunctional Canadian soccer system. He is an advocate for a better development stream and doing more than just crying about it. He’s helping to build a model that allows truly elite players to develop properly.

“I don’t think anyone starts out with the goal of getting into the Hall of Fame,” deVos said. “I know it wasn’t mine. You just want to go out there and be the best you can possibly be.”

For deVos it started when he was 12 and watched Canada play in the 1986 World Cup in Mexico. It was the one and only time Canada has played in a FIFA World Cup.

“That ignited something in me that made me want to do the same thing,” deVos said. “I’ve said the same thing many times. I never wanted to be a professional soccer player. It was never a goal of mine to make money playing the game. My goal was to play for my country and to get to the World.

“I was fortunate enough to play for my country and captain my country but never fortunate enough to play in a World Cup. That’s the single biggest disappointment of my career not being able to help my country get back to the World Cup.”

It’s watching Canadian men continue to fail in big games that’s driven deVos to fight with everything he has to make the system better. He spends countless hours selling to those who run the game on a better system of player development and identification.

Getting soccer people to change is like prying a country from a dictator’s clutches but he’s trying.

“With my personality being what it is, it’s all or nothing with me,” deVos said. “When I jump into something I give it 24 hours a day. I sometimes lose myself with my desire to make things better in Canada.”

He is passionate about improving the game because deVos beat the current system, unlike others who are casualties along the road of Canadian soccer development.

“I had to fight and wind my way through a broken, fractured development structure in Canada,” deVos said. “I was one of the lucky ones. I managed to get to the top of the game and make a living at playing the game. There are so many players I played with who are far more talented than I was who never made it to that level for one reason or another. As a nation we’ve done a very poor job of developing our soccer players the results are born out on the international level certainly on the men’s side.”

There’s more. Plenty more he had to say but that’s for another day.

Like many players, deVos says he owes his success to his parents Jack and Ria.

“The things that they gave up so I could chase my dream, I couldn’t list them there were so many,” he said.

deVos is now in a position where he can get the message out and people are listening.

“Anyone who knows me knows I love a good challenge,” he said. “When someone tells me I can’t do something, I just use it as motivation to try harder. I was never the most talented player in the world. On every team I played for I was never the most talented. But I wouldn’t let anyone work harder than me.”


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