How a Belgian connection brought Diouck to FC Edmonton

New FC Edmonton signing Oumar Diouck hasn’t come out of nowhere.

It may appear that way at first; a Senegalese-born striker and former Belgium youth international swapping Flanders for Alberta.

But his connection to FC Edmonton is a strong one — it runs through his friend, former Eddies defender Papé Diakite.

“He came highly recommended by Papé and that’s important,” chuckled FC Edmonton head coach Jeff Paulus. “We had a lot of success with Papé, so hopefully we’ll have the same with him.”

Diouck moved to Belgium at the age of nine. He represented his adopted home internationally at the under-15, under-16 and under-17 levels before signing his first professional contract with Germinal Beerschot, a Belgian first division club.

The 24-year-old has spent the majority of his career in Belgium, including at Royal Antwerp where he met fellow Senegal countryman Diakte.

Diouck considers the former FC Edmonton defender “a very close friend” and says Diakite told him nothing but good things about the club.

“I see this as a great chance to make a difference,” said Diouck. “There’s a lot of ambition in the club, and they want to set up a great team.

“I don’t know a lot about Edmonton, as I’ve never been there before, but I’m looking forward to getting to know the city better. I’ve heard it’s a nice city with lovely people.”

An attacking right-footed player, Diouck is capable of playing as a striker and winger, something that caught the eye of head coach Paulus.

“We’ve watched a lot of video on this player, and I see a powerful, quick striker who can play anywhere along the front line, and this gives us flexibility,” Paulus described.

Diouck says he and Paulus have chatted about how the FC Edmonton gaffer wants the team to play, and the forward is fully behind Paulus’ system and style.

“He wants us to attack as a team, to keep the ball and put pressure on the opponent, and I like that,” Diouck said.

Paulus insists the 24-year-old’s best years are in front of him. A new experience in the Canadian Premier League could be the beginning of bigger and better things.

“We want to be a quick, attacking team,” Paulus acknowledged. “He’s going to bring some pace and power to the front line for us, and he’s going to bring a high level of technical experience.

“He’s still young and has a lot of time to improve, and hopefully we can be a launch pad for him.”

All thanks to a former player, who just might have provided his former coach something special.

“I’m very excited to play for FC Edmonton and start a new chapter in my life,” said Diouck. “I want to win games to make our fans and my family in Belgium happy.”