Home NASL & USL FC Edmonton FC Edmonton defender Farenik restarts career after trio of brain surgeries

FC Edmonton defender Farenik restarts career after trio of brain surgeries


Justin Farenik was eight months into his European soccer career when it happened.

After three years at Trinity Western University, the left-footed defender crossed the Atlantic to begin building a European career. But, as he played for lower-division Belgian side RRFC Montegnee, he began suffering from headaches.

Then he woke up one morning, and he couldn’t see.

A tumor on his brain had pressed against his pituitary gland and had interfered with his optic nerve. He lost strength, as his muscles began to atrophy.

Four years and three, yes, three brain surgeries later, and Farenik is heading the ball with ease as FC Edmonton continues its off-season training at the Victoria Soccer Centre in the north end of the city. As one of the club’s newest signings, the Calgary native is bullish about his prospects and the club.

“The tumor is kind of sticky, so they have to be careful in removing it,” said Farenik, who went through his most recent — and hopefully final — procedure in May. Because doctors had to take care, in the first two surgeries, they had to leave small parts of the tumor behind. Imagine peeling a sticker off paper; if you don’t take care, the paper rips. So, because they had to leave sticky pieces of the tumor behind, it would have the chance to regenerate.

Justin Farenik

“So it would come back. But this last time, they think they got it all and that it shouldn’t come back. My last MRI was totally clear.”

Now, Farenik wants to kickstart his pro career, as he reunites in NASL with centre back Paul Hamilton, a former Trinity Western teammate and someone he competed with and against growing up in Calgary.

“So far, it has been great,” said Farenik. “The coaching is first-rate. Harry (Sinkgraven) is excellent and Hans (assistant Hans Schrijver), even though he just got here, he’s one of the best coaches I have had.

“I want to play with the first team. I am not a player who will be happy just to be training. I want to do what I can to help this team do better than it did last season.”

After returning from Belgium, Farenik had gone back to school, and played for Mount Royal University in Calgary.

Farenik was discovered by FCE in a reserve match this summer. Farenik was playing for the Calgary Villains of the Alberta Major Soccer League, and that team faced FC Edmonton reserves, which was then headed by former FCE assistant Dave Randall. Randall liked what he saw in Farenik, and recommended him for a trial.

“I got my foot in the door,” said Farenik. “I was just a little but surprised because I’d never played for Dave before.” (Randall was known for his work with the Villains’ rival, the Callies)

So, when Randall was released by FC Edmonton owner Tom Fath last week, the news caught Farenik off-guard.

“It was a surprise. To everyone, I think, it kind of came from out of the blue.”


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