‘Ottawa was just such a clear choice’: Former Canada international Kris Twardek joins Atlético Ottawa

Atlético Ottawa announced on Tuesday the signing of Canadian international attacker Kris Twardek to a two-year contract with an additional option for 2026.  

Twardek, 26, returns to Canada for what will be his first stint in North American football throughout his career. 

With Irish, English, Polish and Slovakian football on his esteemed résumé, Twardek most recently played with 11-time Irish champions Bohemian FC. Twardek also has one appearance for the Canadian men’s national team, a match against El Salvador in 2017. 

Despite being born in Toronto, Ottawa’s latest signing feels he’s returning home in this new adventure. 

“I definitely consider myself Ottawa local,” said Twardek in a virtual interview. “I moved when I was three years old back into the outskirts of Ottawa. … I spent my whole youth soccer coming through the ranks of the small areas like West Carleton and then into OSU in the City of Ottawa.”

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With over 100 career appearances in Ireland’s first division, at 26 years old, Twardek felt like the choice to move his career to Canada’s capital was the clear next step. 

“I had been in Ireland for a number of years, been in Europe for just over 10 years now, and I recently got engaged,” Twardek said. “Just in terms of life, it made sense…Ottawa was just such a clear choice.”

Kris Twardek playing for a Canada youth team. (Photo credit: Canada Soccer by Guillaume Boitiaux)

A family man at heart, Twardek is excited by the opportunity to play in front of his family and friends for a change. 

“The best times for me were whenever I would have games abroad and my mum or dad or brother would be over and could watch a game,” he said. “So, the prospect of that being every second week or every home game, it’s amazing really.”

Personal life aside, the midfielder said he was giving special attention to the CPL during his last years in Ireland. 

“I would specifically watch Ottawa and Valour, I just was always curious to keep an eye on it and see how the league was progressing,” said Twardek, who played with Valour FC assistant coach Daryl Fordyce at Sligo Rovers. “Just from the outside looking in, the league is growing; it’s obviously an incredible challenge to start a league from scratch, and from what I can tell, it’s doing a great job. I’m just excited to integrate into the league.”

Joining the likes of Matteo de Brienne and Ballou Tabla as the newest Atlético Ottawa signings, Twardek prefers to play on the right side as an aggressive winger. 

“In terms of style of play, I’d say I’m just a very direct attacking player,” he said. “Energetic athletic style, kind of up and down the flank winger. And that’s kind of ultimately been my style of play.”