Inside Atomic FC – Terry Dunfield
It’s long been recognized that being blessed with a fair share of luck is an important ingredient in any field of endeavor and soccer is no exception. Being in the right place at the right time, seen by the right people, being possessed of the necessary skills, all play an important part of being identified as a special player.
The Canadian Soccer League has had its fair share of exceptional players over the years and midfielder Terry Dunfield, now with Toronto Atomic FC, is one of the most recent and one of the most impressive.
For Terry Dunfield it all started unexpectedly as a visiting schoolboy playing in a small community in England. Born in Vancouver, Dunfield was playing with his Canadian team in a tournament at Keele, Staffordshire in the summer of 1999, unaware that a scout from Manchester City – today one of the world’s top clubs – was strolling the field perimeter hoping to pick out any teenager that might look like a real soccer player.
Canadians soccer players had earlier ventured to the UK to be identified as the real deal, so that scouts in England were familiar with Les Wilson, Frank Yallop and Craig Forrest, all having played youth soccer in British Columbia before enjoying lengthy careers at the top level with English clubs. Scouts will tell you, such players come along just once in a while, a bit like winning the lottery.
Manchester City put Dunfield on trial and under contract. He later captained the youth team and was named Youth Player of the Year. He appeared for Manchester City before moving on to make almost 200 appearances over a 17 year period in first class football in England and Scotland despite an early, serious injury that almost ended his career.
Not a bench-sitting player at any time, the Canadian became more receptive to offers that promised playing time – Bury, Macclesfield Town and Shrewsbury Town and later for Ross County in Scotland, avoiding glamour club opportunities that may result in long periods as a substitute. Newly-appointed Manchester City manager Kevin Keegan (capped 63 times for England and later managed the England team) had ongoing plans for Dunfield during those Manchester City days, but reports show Dunfield preferred other opportunities with more time on the field of play.
Terry Dunfield made one appearance for the England U-18 side while in that country, followed by appearances for Canada’s U-20 and U-23 sides and eventually made 14 appearances for the Canadian men’s team, all since 2010. He captained the team against Denmark in 2013.
Following his career in the UK, Dunfield, now 34, returned to Canada to play for Vancouver Whitecaps, then Toronto FC, and is now pursuing a broadcast career with TSN. This year, he joined the CSL’s Toronto Atomic FC for pre-season training and has become a regular. He scored his first goal against Scarborough on June 25.
“I’m enjoying playing for Atomic, well organized and professional,” said Dunfield after playing the opening games. “We’re training three times a week and the team is doing well.”
Dunfield feels soccer in Canada is moving along nicely and in the right direction, that the game needs more time to attract even more sports fans now becoming familiar with the game – what actually happens on in the field of play and the excitement it generates. “The three MLS teams have helped a lot to develop more interest in the game in Canada and the media are becoming more involved,” he said.
In addition to the CSL First Division squad, Toronto Atomic also has a second string in the Second Division and an academy team in the Canadian Academy of Futbol (CAF).
“Terry is great, obviously still a very good player and a nice guy to have around,” said Ihor Prokipchuk, the club’s owner. “His experience strengthens our first team and also his presence can be very helpful to our young players, including in the academy.”
Atomic ended its inaugural 2015 season in fifth position of 12 in the CSL First Division and is currently 3rd place in the 2016 season!
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