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‘It’s such an honour’: Calgary’s Dominick Zator named to Team Canada

25-year-old Dominick Zator found out he'd earned a Team Canada call-up the day before the CPL final.
25-year-old Dominick Zator found out he'd earned a Team Canada call-up the day before the CPL final. Global News

Dominick Zator is making Canadian soccer history.

The 25-year-old Calgarian — with no previous national experience — has been called up to Team Canada for a decisive CONCACAF Nations League match against the United States.

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Zator, a defender for the Canadian Premier League’s Cavalry FC, has been generating national team buzz for months and says finally getting the fateful phone call from Canada men’s national team head coach John Herdman was a dream come true.

READ MORE: Foot Soldiers boosting Cavalry FC ahead of CPL championship: ‘They’ve been our 12th player’

“He called me saying I was selected for the 23 for the next camp,” Zator said. “I was lost for words. Speechless. I can’t believe that I got that kind of phone call.

“It’s such an honour.”

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Zator is the third CPL player to join Team Canada this season, along with his Cavalry teammate Marco Carducci and FC Edmonton’s Amer Didic, but he’s the first to do it without any prior provincial or national team experience.

Growing up, Zator found himself constantly passed-over for higher-level experience.

“It was tough, for sure, seeing some of your close friends making those teams and you just want to be part of it,” Zator recalled.

“It was something that kind of drove me and fueled my fire to keep working every day to get better and prove people wrong.”

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That spark didn’t go unnoticed.

“I happened to be at Foothills (Soccer Club) when he was ten years old with that white headband and silly long hair, a scrawny, skinny little kid — he was always special,” Zator’s former coach Troye Flannery said. “He was quite the attacking player at the time and he’s grown up into quite the player and quite the physical specimen.”

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READ MORE: Dinos men’s soccer team embracing underdog image ahead of 1st national championship

Zator climbed the ranks with the University of Calgary Dinos, earning USports All-Canadian honours in his fifth year.

“He’s been our leader. He led the program when he was here,” Dinos head coach Brendan O’Connell added.

“He’s always had the talent. He probably just didn’t have the opportunities everyone else gets in Europe.

“He’s created his own luck.”

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Zator has seen his star rise since scoring Cavalry FC’s series-winning goal against the Vancouver Whitecaps of the MLS in the 2019 Canadian Championship.

‘They’ve been our 12th player’: Foot Soldiers boosting Cavalry FC ahead of CPL championship
‘They’ve been our 12th player’: Foot Soldiers boosting Cavalry FC ahead of CPL championship

Cavalry are the only CPL squad to eliminate an MLS opponent in the tournament.

While his playing time with the men’s national team isn’t guaranteed, Zator is prepared to fight for every second on the pitch.

READ MORE: Canada men’s soccer team coach bullish about qualifying for 2022 FIFA World Cup

The Calgary soccer community hopes his accomplishment inspires another wave of local athletes.

“For all players — boys and girls — in this city, the message is perseverance. You have to keep persevering and hope that your chance comes along,” O’Connell said.

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“There are people here in this city trying to make the game better, give kids opportunities and it’s happened. It’s a success story.

“Who’s to say it won’t happen again?”

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Canada is currently in first place in Group A standings with a 3-0 record. The U.S. is in second in Group A with a 1-1 record and Cuba is in third at 0-3.

READ MORE: John Herdman takes over Canadian men’s soccer program

Canada beat the U.S. 2-0 last month and only needs a draw in the second leg to advance to the knockout round.

The Canada-USA battle kicks off at Exploria Stadium in Orlando, Fla., on Nov. 15.