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Hatchi says he chose FC Edmonton over offers in France, Belgium

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After being cut by the Montreal Impact in 2011, French defender Kevin Hatchi had the chance to go back to Europe to resume his professional career. But, instead of heading home, he chose to stick it out and look for work in the country that he has grown to love.

FC Edmonton’s new left back was at the club’s first training session of 2012, held Tuesday at the Victoria Soccer Centre. But, he could only watch from the sidelines, as his contract stipulates that his medical needs to be completed before he can actually kick a ball. Expect to see him on the pitch later this week.

“The team, FC Edmonton, I knew it from last year,” Hatchi said with the help of an interpreter, trialist Ladi Bushiri. “They have so many good young players, and the team plays on the ball, they like to hold the ball, the way I like to play.

“I had an offer from a club in France, in the second division, and also in Belgium, with a team in the premier division. But I like Canada. I fell in love with this country and I wanted to stay.”

In fact, Hatchi hopes to take the burden of “import” off the FC Edmonton books — as he hopes to get his Canadian citizenship down the road.

Hatchi is soft-spoken, and polite to a fault. Yes, it was his first day with his new club, but it was hard to imagine him to be a disruptive force in a dressing room. When he was cut loose by the Impact in June of 2012, Montreal sporting director Nick De Santis suggested that there were behind-the-scenes issues.

“Kevin Hatchi had certain qualities, but he didn’t fit in the group,” De Santis said at the time. “We took this decision for the well-being of the team. All our players need to walk in the same direction, especially when the team is going through difficult times.”

“I think there was some misunderstanding,” Hatchi said. “It was a difficult time. We were playing better, we had played well for a couple of games, but we weren’t winning the games. I don’t know exactly why I was cut. As a player my concentration was always on the pitch, and I didn’t concern myself what happened off the pitch.”

Montreal got off to an awful start to its final NASL season, and made a desperate late dash to try and make the playoffs that fell just short.

And Hatchi said Montreal’s struggles in 2011 offers a lesson for FC Edmonton going forward.

“This is a very good team, a very young team, and it can go far. But this league is difficult. The league changes so fast. What happens around you can change quickly. Two years ago, Montreal was a top team, and last year, we went down so quickly.”

 

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