Daryl Fordyce’s paternity leave saw him leave his team and the country he called home.
Valour FC’s newest striker spent four seasons with FC Edmonton in the NASL, becoming the league’s all-time leading scorer before the club temporarily shuttered in 2017.
By the following season, with the Canadian Premier League looming, Fordyce and his pregnant wife faced an interesting fork in the road: Accept a premature offer from FC Edmonton to play in the CPL in 2019, or return to Ireland.
He chose to go back to Ireland, a decision he has no regrets about.
“It’s worked out alright for us,” Fordyce told CanPL.ca from his new home in Winnipeg. “It’s our first baby and we wanted our family to see him.
“To get 18 months there with family and friends, was just so incredible and important for our lives.”
Instead of playing in the CPL, Fordyce spent the 2019 season with League of Ireland’s Sligo Rovers, scoring a pair of goals in 29 appearances. It was his first bit of professional football in 15 months – a staggering break for a player in his 30s.
“I think I had two weeks of training after 15 months away from the game before playing against Dundalk, the top team in the league,” Fordyce recalled.
“I remember coming off the game thinking that was so tough on me. My last game was away to Miami, who was also the best team in the NASL at the time.”
The now-33-year-old Fordyce “fell in love with the game again” in Ireland it, after being swept up in fatherhood, and reconnecting with friends and family. Now back in Canada, the powerful striker has taken quite the life journey with his nearly two-year-old son, who has been a star on Valour’s team Zoom calls (more on that later).
But things could have been a lot different, Fordyce admits. FC Edmonton’s early offer in 2018 was legitimate, as they looked to bring their all-time leading goalscorer to the CPL.
“We came to an agreement, but it was so early – maybe a full year before the CPL started,” Fordyce began.
“I guess Jeff [Paulus] changed his mind, and there was a chance things wouldn’t go through. It was just one of those things. No disrespect or hard feelings or regrets. It’s soccer. Things change.
“I want to play somewhere where I’m valued. If you get that as a player, you’re going to perform so much better.
“I was training by myself one day and thought ‘that’s it, we’re going back home.’ It’s not gonna work out here right now. At that moment in time I made a decision.”
Fordyce’s stop-start-stop professional career is set for a new, possibly calmer chapter in Winnipeg – especially since his wife managed to get a job transfer from Edmonton.
His son, however, has been anything but calm. Whether he’s climbing over Fordyce during Zoom yoga sessions or leaving accidents on the floor, he’s giving his father grief – and Valour players something to joke about.
“We’re doing a team meeting over Zoom and some of these guys are complaining,” Fordyce began.
“I told them to stop complaining; My wife just came home from work, I’ve been looking after this kid all day trying to potty train him, and now I have a fun hangout.
“Just as I said that I turn around and he’s pooped on the floor.”
The paternity leave may end, but being a father won’t.