He may still only be 18-years-old, but Quinn Bredin’s footballing journey is one that has taken him many, many miles. It has taken him from a small boy growing up in St. George, Ontario to crossing over the Atlantic Ocean and having tryouts with numerous big English clubs and playing semi-professionally with an English non-league club all, before he was 16 years old. Let’s put that in perspective, what where you doing at 16 years old?
Bredin came to Vancouver Whitecaps’ academy in February 2015 and immediately solidified himself as a full-time starter, helping the Whitecaps Residency U18’s make a nice run in that seasons 2015 USSDA playoffs.
That play in 2015 was enough for the young defender to earn his first Canadian international call up when he was invited to the U20 team in August last year. During the current 2015/16 Residency season, Bredin has continued to impress his coaches and has taken his game to the next level.
With the end of his Residency time on the horizon, we had a chance to talk with Bredin to see where he came from, when he started his career, and where he sees himself after his spell with the ‘Caps Residency is finished.
It’s time for an AFTN “Ten Count” with Whitecaps and Canadian team defender Quinn Bredin….
AFTN: You have had a lot of experience across the pond in Europe, including trials for Manchester City, Fulham, Stoke City, Birmingham City, Preston North End and Brentford. What did you take out of those trial experiences to improve your game in North American style football?
QUINN: First lesson I learned was about paperwork and visas. Before you go on any trial in the UK make sure you have those answers crystal clear. I was not able to receive my work visa for the UK until was 17. The first question most coaches asked before I even got a trial was about my visa. If you do not have a direct connection through family, it is getting tougher and tougher for these teams to pull you through, unless you have a first generation connection back to someone in the EU or UK.
I think biggest gain has been the mental toughness. Getting a phone call from a scout, or coach, and having to travel hours on a train to be at trial the next morning is not for the faint of heart. You need to be absolutely sold out to your dream. You need to block off any emotions you have of wanting to be liked; or welcomed in any sort of friendly way when you join these squads. There is only one reason you are at these trials and the boys know you’re there to steal their position. I would have to think that preparing for these trials is kind of like going into battle.
The UK system is a lot more vocal, rough, and grittier then what we have here in North America. In my experience, it was not uncommon to have guys bark four letter profanities at you while you are getting ready in the change room. In addition to that, telling you they are going to knock your head off the second you step on the pitch. Football revolves around the pub in the UK and the scrappiness of a bar fight is what these guys bring to the pitch. You are there to steal their jobs and they clearly do not like it when foreigners step into their inner sanctum.
I think the next biggest experience I gained, was knowing how to control my nerves in extremely competitive situations. When you are the outsider, there is very little room for mistakes in a trial situation. You are always trying to catch a glance, or have a moment of brilliance, given there is a very short period to make an impression. Creating those chances for a little bit of magic was extremely difficult for me in the beginning because I am not a flashy player. Most people need to see me play over a series of games before they truly see my value. I learned there is a style of play for a trial, and there is a style of play for the regular season.
Before you get onto the field most coaches and scouts will just say, “Do what you’re good at and keep it simple”. After all these trials, I am not convinced the basics will cut it; everyone can do that. You need to show some magic out there and this is not always easy to do when you are playing with new players. Throw in the horrible weather, grass fields, and different coaching styles across all the different teams and you can see why so few players from North America make it in the UK.
How do you find the development in the Whitecaps FC organization compared to when you played for Hayes and Yeading? Is there anything that is the same for both clubs? Anything vastly different?
I couldn’t play professionally for Hayes & Yeading because I did not have my full visa finalized. The club played in the 5th division of English football. I played in many matches with Hayes for well over a year. Many of the players were former Championship and Premiership players but I never signed any contracts given my desire to keep the window open to the MLS and US soccer scholarships.
What is similar, even though it was a small club with limited resources, they very focused on developing young players like the Whitecaps. Hayes and Yeading had an academy set up like most larger clubs which provided players an opportunity to develop and give them a chance at first team football. Its all about playing time – you can practice all you want but there is no substitute for game time football with grown men. The lower level clubs offer this to younger players like myself and you gain invaluable experience from playing with many senior level players who are now winding down their careers. The club also possesses quality coaches with lots of experience like here in Vancouver.
The biggest difference was the playing styles between the two clubs. At the level of Hayes & Yeading it was all about winning. If it meant you get hammering long passes to the strikers, and getting deep into the corners for some cross balls or heads, this is what you did. While here at the Whitecaps, we have our own style of play that focuses a lot on playing through the thirds and transition.
Being a Toronto kid, what was behind the decision to join the Whitecaps Residency program after having so many trials over in Europe? Did TFC show interest in you for their academy?
That is a lengthy story that is a little complicated, but I will try to explain briefly. Like most kids, I grew up playing soccer from a young age. I went through the rep soccer, district programs, provincial program, and then got stuck at 15 with nowhere to go. My parents made big sacrifices and drove almost 50,000kms in one year to have me go back and forth at the Provincial headquarters in Vaughan. After all that sacrifice, everything came to a grinding halt. My only option would have been to join a private club.
Toronto FC was just starting their academy at the time. My home in Ontario is just over 100Kms from the Toronto FC training and even though I played at the highest levels of soccer in the Province of Ontario, there were no Toronto FC Academy opportunities for players like myself who fell outside of that 75km zone. It was really a shame, because there were so many talented players in Kitchener, London, and Windsor areas who were ostracized because of these boundary issues.
When the opportunity came up to head over to the UK through a program called Edukick, I immediately took the chance to get far more exposure in the UK and begin building my CV abroad.
After two years in England, I was given a chance to trial with the Whitecaps in early 2015. I am so thankful for that opportunity. The Whitecaps club has treated me like gold and I try to earn their respect each and every day for this wonderful opportunity. It is a shame that I needed to travel 3000 miles to Vancouver given Toronto FC is only 60 miles away, but honestly, I am so glad I ended up here versus Toronto. I love the culture of the Whitecaps organization and I am indebted to their generosity for allowing me to be one of their billeted players.
You earned your first U20 call up for Canada in August 2015. What was that experience like for you?
Totally Awesome – WOW – What a dream come true. I thought the opportunity might have passed me by because of my time in England, but being here with the Whitecaps has given me some needed exposure with the National Team. This allowed me to raise my visibility on a National stage. Playing with the National team is not something I take lightly. I hope that my continued success here with the Whitecaps will open up more doors in the future to play some international matches with the U20 squad. I feel I am just hitting my stride here in North America and I am feeling more and more confident every day about my abilities to bring something to the table for my country. I am getting some opportunities to play with WFC2 and I hope that my game will continue to be National quality to allow me a chance to shine on a world stage.
What are your personal goals for 2016 on and off the pitch?
For 2016 I have a lot of personal and professional goals. My first goal is to ensure I finish off strong here with the Whitecaps and ensure they see a future player they can call on for USL or MLS opportunities. My second goal is to land a soccer/academic scholarship at a D1 school and ensure my soccer and education continues in unison for the next 4 years.
My dream is still to play professional soccer and I love the idea of being able to straddle academia and soccer in a prestigious US university. I am very passionate about professional development, education, and business. The idea of being able to walk away with a 4-year degree and still have a chance in the MLS by the time I am 22 is amazing.
Are there any first team players on the Whitecaps roster that you could compare your playing style to?
I am probably most similar to Tim Parker. He is a strong leader, great on the ball and an excellent defender. He has really come onto the scene in MLS last year and has certain characteristics I try to mimic in my own game.
Who are your favourite team and player of all time?
It would have to be Carlos Puyol. I love how he plays, and for me he is one of the greatest defenders to grace this game. It takes a miracle for someone to get past him and he is not afraid to put his body on the line. It’s balls to the wall with everything he does and I really like that about him. He has won so many trophies internationally and in his club career, and is a shining example of what I hope to become one day myself. When you look at his accomplishments, it makes it very hard not to recognize and admire his incredible journey.
Who would say is the most skilled player you have had as a teammate?
There have been many great players I have had the honour to call my teammate. The most skilled player I have had as a teammate is a fellow Whitecaps member, Daniel Sagno. He is great on the ball with a million different tricks up his sleeve. I love his showmanship and he is a true athlete on and off the field.
Who is the most talented player you have had the chance to line up against?
I would say the most talented player I have had the chance of lining up against is Moussa Dembélé. He is a French striker that plays regularly for Fulham’s first team and is a French U-21 international. I came up against him in an inter squad game while on trial at Fulham and he is a very talented player. I loved going toe to toe with him while on trial and hope our paths cross again one day.
Where do you see yourself in your football career in 5 years time?
In five years I will be 24-years-old and just hitting my stride from an athletic performance perspective. I hope I have an MBA and a signed contract with a professional soccer/football club here in North America, the UK or Europe. I never want to give up on my dream of playing professional soccer and just need to realize there is no straight line to success. I welcome all opportunities to represent this sport.
Now, having worked with the Athletes in Action for a couple of years, I also think there will be many opportunities to serve underprivileged kids and work with different organizations that see value in working with professional athletes. I hope that my professional career allows me a chance to uplift others with the sport I love and make connections with a whole host of people all around the world who have the same passions for life, sport, fitness and faith such as myself.
Thanks to Quinn for taking time to chat with AFTN. Make sure you give Quinn a follow on Twitter – @BredinQuinn.
We’ll have another “Ten Count” soon. If you missed it, don’t forget to check out our first one with Quinn’s fellow Residency and Canadian national team defender, Andre Baires.