York United FC is thrilled to announce the signing of Canadian midfielder Elijah Adekugbe on a two-year deal.
The 26-year-old has spent the past four seasons with Cavalry FC, accumulating 50 appearances in the Canadian Premier League and five more in the Canadian Championship. In total, he racked up over 3,500 minutes of action, scored three goals and added five assists.
But for an Achilles injury that kept him out for the entire 2021 campaign, his numbers would be even more impressive. Still, Adekugbe fought back strongly and proved an integral part of the Cavs run to the CPL semifinals last season, starting both games in what was an intense two-legged battle with eventual champions Forge FC.
Adekugbe revealed the news in an exclusive interview with Andi Petrillo on CBC’s Soccer North show. Currently in Qatar to support older brother Sam’s World Cup adventure with the Canadian Men’s National Team, he spoke of the move and his excitement at what lies ahead.
“It’s a new challenge, it’s a new chapter and I’m super excited to announce it,” he said.
“It’s a big change. Obviously, I’ve been in Calgary my whole life but it’s a new setting, a new inspiration. The hunger is still the same and even coming to Qatar and watching my brother play has inspired me even more to keep continuing on my own path and be the best version of myself and I’d like to thank everyone at York – Angus [McNab], Nashy, Mauro (Eustáquio) – for believing in me and giving me the opportunity.”With plans shaping up nicely for the 2023 season, Adekugbe is the first new signing announced by The Nine Stripes with more additions on their way soon.
“Elijah is a player that I’ve really liked for a number of years,” says Angus McNab, York United FC CEO/President and GM.
“He’s done very well to come back from his Achilles injury and the fact that he started both of the playoff games at the end of the season really cements the fact he’s 100% and a very important player in this league.”Born in London and with his early years spent in Manchester, England, Adekugbe moved to Canada with his family when he was eight and his formative soccer education was developed while playing underage with Calgary Foothills. He later joined the Vancouver Whitecaps Academy before returning to the Foothills for their inaugural season in the Premier Development League (PDL). In 2018, he was an instrumental part of a side that finished the season as champions. At the end of that year, he was signed by Cavalry FC ahead of what proved an impressive debut CPL campaign that saw them finish as Fall season champions before losing narrowly to Forge FC in the championship decider.
His move to The Nine Stripes reunites him with a number of familiar faces. At Cavalry, Adekugbe had Niko Giantsopoulos and Dominick Zator as team-mates, as well as Mauro Eustáquio. Meanwhile, Martin Nash was a key member of the coaching staff at Spruce Meadows. Now, while Eustáquio is preparing for his sophomore season as an assistant coach with York United, Nash is gearing up for his second campaign in the big seat.
“Elijah is a leader,” the Head Coach says of his new recruit. “He is a very technical midfield player, who has the ability to dictate the tempo of a match.”