Cyle Larin didn’t understand the question at first.
The Canadian and Club Brugge centre-forward was asked to describe what his game looks like when he’s playing at his best. A question I’ve never heard before.
Perhaps early in his career, his game was rarely questioned. He was holding the ball very well in the box, turning and scoring with clinical precision. And for bystanders, it mattered.
“I don’t know how to explain it,” said Larin, somewhat confused, before finally replying, “I don’t know.”
That may explain why the forward has scored 25 goals, the most for the Canadian men’s team. This achievement should have made him a national star, but Larin doesn’t want to be in the limelight.
“He’s a silent giant,” said Bobby Smirniotis, Larin’s former academy coach and current manager of Canadian Premier League side Forge FC. “He wants to play, he wants to score goals.
However, at the World Cup, Larin believes his performance will cause a lot of commotion and the world will take notice of his talent.
“People will see me in the best shape they’ve ever seen,” Larin says. “We surprise a lot of people.”
Looking back, it felt inevitable that Cyle Larin would become the all-time leading Canadian men’s goalscorer. Wherever he played, he found the back of the net.
At St Edmund Campion Secondary School in Brampton, Canada’s football capital, Larin scored a goal at will. He did the same with Sigma FC, the academy side he joined at the age of 11. His profile increased once he enrolled at the University of Connecticut, where he scored an impressive 23 goals in 39 appearances over two seasons.
Larin is tall, quick on her feet, has great strength and knows how to finish. The 27-year-old worked hard at his game and was called up to the Canadian national team for the first time in 2014, but he continued to play college football.
Michael Findlay, Canada’s assistant coach at the time, had trouble evaluating Larin. He was ninth in top scorers and was definitely a great asset to the team. However, Findlay was worried that it would be too easy for Larin. Were the players challenged on and off the pitch?
The coach couldn’t shake the feeling that Larin had extra gear she had yet to find.
“Sometimes I thought Cyle wouldn’t work,” says Findlay. “He didn’t seem committed, so he didn’t seem to recognize his abilities. He seemed very free-spirited. But I think it was an emotional process of maturing.” increase.”
Larin is fully aware that some people have this perception of him, but he doesn’t mind it.
“I always know what I can do, how good I am, and that I can succeed wherever I go,” he says.
He is also well aware of how people’s harsh views of him have changed his professional career opportunities.
Larin was draft 1st Drafted overall by Orlando City in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft, he scored an MLS-record 17 goals in his rookie season. He had another successful season in 2016, but was not offered the kind of contract extension he believed he had earned.
Transfer offers from other sides came in, but Orlando refused to sell. I wanted to Larin’s minutes dwindled and the team made a splash with another forward, Dom Dwyer, instead.
This was just the beginning of the upheaval Period of Larin’s life.
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In June 2017, he was arrested for DUI after being pulled over on the wrong side of the road. “It was a lesson for me,” Larin says. “And I learned from it.”
Unsurprisingly, Larin was not named on the roster for Canada’s first Gold Cup that summer. Findlay remembers sending Larin the message:
Larin was eventually forced to leave Orlando and joined Turkish club Besiktas in 2018 for a below-market price (an undisclosed fee believed to be less than $3 million). In his first full season in Turkey, he played sparingly, but this transfer allowed him to draw from the well of wisdom that experienced fellow Canadian Atiba Hutchinson could offer.
Larin watched the long hours Hutchinson spent training in Turkey to prepare for a long season and adjusted his own regime as a result. serve as captain.
Of Larin, Hutchinson said: I’ve actually seen him grow into a young man and it’s been great to see his change and commitment to what he wants to do.
Larin became a father in 2020 and has twin girls Kaylee and Cyree. His fatherhood and the responsibilities that come with it have taught him to “be in the moment” and not care what people say about him.
“[Having kids]has helped me grow as a person and understand what’s important in life,” Larin says. “Everything I do now is for them.”
The difference on the pitch in 2020-21 was noticeable. His 2,886 minutes at Besiktas in his super-his rig that season is the most he has recorded in one of his seasons. He scored 19 goals and was the title-winning Besiktas top scorer.
“He just came out of his shell,” says Hutchinson. “He was a very quiet person to us. He opened up to a lot of people and made it easier for people to talk to him and communicate with him.
That positive change carried over to the Canadian national team. Qualifying for the World Cup for the first time since 1986, Larin’s influence cannot be underestimated. He was the top scorer in the North American qualifiers with 13 goals in just 16 appearances, and Canada didn’t lose a game in which he scored.
“(Larin) was a big player from a young age,” says Richie Laria, who has played with Larin at Canada, Sigma and Orlando City. “When you need someone to score a goal, you’re there to score the most important goal.”
There is positivity and pride in Larin’s voice as he discusses playing for the Canadian national team. This translates to pitch as well. His game seems to be gearing up when he’s playing for his country.
Perhaps it’s because head coach John Hardman continues to have faith in him. Or maybe it’s because he feels incredibly comfortable around a large group of players.
“Every time I go to the national team, I play with people who know me and who know how I want to play,” he says.
Larin wanted to move to Club Brugge before this season as he had a chance in the Champions League. However, he made only one substitute appearance in a competition and made just one start in all competitions all season. It was a -0 win.
“Every time I go to a new club, for some reason they don’t give me that spot,” Larin says. “I had a good season in Turkey and now here I am.
Larin will start for Qatar and could become the first player to score for Canada at the World Cup.
Few bet that he will bounce back from disappointment again.
(Photo above: Matthew Ashton — AMA/Getty Images)