Former Premier League goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar guards the cage for the West Side Monarchs in this 2013 photo. — Star file photo
Bruce Grobbelaar has no problems giving something back to Canada because the country opened the door for what would be a legendary professional soccer career.
Grobbelaar is spending two weeks as a “guest” coach of the Ottawa Fury FC after being asked by coach Marc Dos Santos to assess the keeper situation with the North American Soccer League franchise. The Fury wanted an experienced goalkeeper coach to replace David Bellemare, whose contract with the team ended recently.
The former Liverpool star has been suiting up with the West Side Monarchs in the Corner Brook senior men’s soccer league for the past couple of seasons. This summer he was lending a helping hand as a member of the coaching staff for the local minor soccer association’s summer program.
Now living in Corner Brook, he believes he has lots to offer budding players from a coaching vantage point. However, he also wanted to get a taste of coaching at the pro level, and figures he can make a difference. He sees the short gig as a means to enhance his coaching career.
In making the decision to give this job a try, he hasn’t forgotten the road he took to becoming a legend with Liverpool of the English Premier League — a career that spanned 14 years.
Born in South Africa, but raised in Rhodesia (which would become Zimbabwe), the 56-year-old played for clubs in both countries before joining the Vancouver Whitecaps of the original North American Soccer League before being noticed by Liverpool while on loan to Crewe Alexandra in 1980. His first professional contract was signed with Vancouver, and he would stay with the team from 1979-81.
“I felt it was time for myself to go out in the wide world, and give back to Canada what they gave me in the beginning,” Grobebelaar said via telephone from Ottawa Thursday.
While the initial offer from the Fury coach was only for two weeks, his stay could be extended because the team would like him to stay for the balance of the season.
He will take a look at the Fury in game action over the weekend, and talk with coach Dos Santos Monday to see if he will stick around for the remaining four months of the season.
Grobbelaar acknowledges his appreciation of the good things that came his way in life because of the opportunity given to him in Canada decades ago. Being in a position to give back to a game and a country appears to bring him contentment.
“I felt Canada has given me the opportunity to start a professional career ... I want to give back, so that’s why I was coaching in the Corner Brook minor soccer association and now looking at an opportunity in a professional league with the Ottawa Fury,” he said.