Canadian loyalties aside, let’s all hope Lensky has beaten his demons

Jacob Lensky, as a Canadian U23 team member back in '08

The Vancouver Whitecaps confirmed via Twitter that hometown product Jacob Lensky is on trial with the club.

Of course, Lensky’s name makes a lot of Canadian supporters see red (in a bad way, that is). He is one of the many players who chose to represent a country other than Canada. He played for Canada at the youth level, but later moved to play for Czech youth set-up, turning down a chance to play for Canada’s senior squad back in 2009.

Like Jonathan de Guzman is attempting to do, Lensky could always come back. He never played for the Czech senior side. But, the case with Lensky won’t be the paperwork or a question of loyalty. Over the next few weeks, we will see if he has managed to rediscover his passion for the game, and if he has truly shed the demons of his past.

He has walked away from soccer on numerous occasions. Many fans and media have the notion that every little boy dreams of the spotlight — and is gladly willing to accept the pressures that go along with it. So, when an athlete like a Lensky or football’s Ricky Williams come along and break that stereotype, they become curiosities.

Lensky first retired from soccer in 2008. He was with Feyenoord, and the game was bringing him no joy. Later, he spoke of feeling isolated in the Netherlands, of not fitting in with the other players.

After trialling with the Whitecaps — and angering Feyenoord in the process — Lensky when to Utrecht, back to the country where he was so unhappy the first time around. It was at this time that he made the switch to Czech national colours.

But he was soon out of the game again. He began suffering migraines. And the rest? Well, here is the release from Utrecht, translated from Dutch. This was back in September of 2011:

Jacob Lensky will not be available for the FC Utrecht team in the immediate future, as he will be receiving treatment for his drinking problem. The Czech international has been absent for a few weeks now because of persistent attacks of migraine. Further investigation has now shown that this migraine comes from a drinking problem with which the player is struggling.

“After careful consideration with the head of medical affairs, Frank van Hellemondt, Lensky has decided to start his treatment right away.

“’The current situation is obviously not good for me, and not for FC Utrecht either,’ said the 22-year-old midfielder. ‘With professional help I am now going to work hard to become valuable again for the club.’

“FC Utrecht’s management has promised Lensky all the professional support necessary to solve his problem.

“’Excessive drinking and top sport are incompatible and Jacob recognizes that himself’ says Foeke Booy, FC Utrecht’s technical director. ‘But we very much respect Jacob’s candour on his drink problem. Internally we have updated all parties concerned and there is a lot of understanding among the players and staff and there is a lot of willingness to support him in his program.’

“How long it takes before Jacob Lensky will be available again for FC Utrecht is unknown.”

That was a half-year ago. More important than the question of nationality or loyalty — or even football itself — is the concern for a young man’s health. Here’s to hoping that Lensky, whether he becomes a Whitecap or not, finds health and some peace of mind.

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About Steven Sandor

I'm currently the colour commentator for FC Edmonton broadcasts on Sportsnet, and TEAM 1260. I've covered the Toronto FC beat for four years, worked for the Edmonton Aviators of the USL for a season, covered the Edmonton Drillers of the NPSL and started covering Canadian World Cup qualifiers in 1996. I've covered the CONCACAF Champions League and the U-20 World Cup. I'm passionate about soccer in North America.