Home Canadian Soccer CIS and Amateur Confident Gigolaj wants to be a starter for FC Edmonton

Confident Gigolaj wants to be a starter for FC Edmonton


On a day that MLS teams made their supplemental picks, a player who should have been on the radar of all three Canadian first-division clubs was on the pitch, training with FC Edmonton.

Of all of the Canadian pro team executives in Canada, only FCE’s director of soccer operations, Joe Petrone, met with Elvir Gigolaj during the CIS championships in Victoria, B.C. The London, Ont.-raised striker was a major part of St. Mary’s stunning run to the Canadian final. He scored six times in three conference playoff games. He scored in the quarter-final against McGill; he scored twice in extra time as SMU beat the University of Alberta in the semifinal; and then he scored in the final, though SMU fell to the host University of Victoria.

Gigolaj was at FC Edmonton’s training session Tuesday, wearing flashy pink shoes, hammering shot after shot into the goal. He’s an imposing presence in the box, an out and out goal poacher — and it’s clear the FCE believes he can be the next great CIS-to-NASL success story, following in the footsteps of Eddies’ teammates Paul Hamilton and Paul Craig.

“I wasn’t sure if anyone was watching me (at the CIS final),” said Gigolaj. “I had an OK season the year before, too. And there was no news. So I wondered it was going to be the same. But this year, the biggest thing was having it (the CIS final) in the West. Soccer is much bigger in the West than it is in the East. There were more fans and coaches there.”

Elvir Gigolaj

Gigolaj’s coming-out match may have been the semifinal win over the U of A; he didn’t get a shot in the regulation 90 minutes but, like all good scorers, knew he would take advantage of the opportunity if it came.

“I didn’t get a shot on goal at all, but I talked to my teammates and said to them, please, just get one more chance. And, we got the opening, I scored and then the game opened up and the second one came a lot easier.”

Gigolaj was born in Croatia to mixed Albanian/Bosnian heritage but was raised in London, Ont., where his father owns a bakery that carries the family name. He played for London City of the CSL to prepare for the CIS season, but admitted it was a struggle.

“I have been a striker since I was seven years old, but it was difficult. I didn’t play my position for most of the season. There were a lot of strikers on the team so I played in attacking midfield.”

He chose to play at London City because of his relationship with coach Luka Shaqiri, who has worked with Gigolaj since the striker was knee-high.

But, the CSL is the past — and the NASL is the present, and the future. And Gigolaj, like any striker wearing pink shoes should, exudes confidence.

“For me, the goal is to be in FC Edmonton’s first team,” he says. “I want to make it and keep my spot. I want to be a player who contributes to the team.”


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  1. Kelsey Goucher

    January 18, 2012 at 8:13 pm

    So proud of you Elvir 🙂 We miss you here at SMU!

    • Chris MacEachern

      January 19, 2012 at 4:28 pm

      Great player, great guy on and off the field. going to miss you next here at SMU buddy, husky pride

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