York United signs Czech youth int’l Martin Graiciar for 2022 CPL season

York United FC is thrilled to announce the signing of Czech Republic striker Martin Graiciar.

The 22-year-old joins on a two-year deal, with a club option until the end of 2024.

Graiciar started out at the fabled Sparta Prague but came to prominence as a teenage prodigy while at FC Viktoria Plzeň and was immersed in the club while it rose through the ranks domestically (their first league triumph was in 2011) and on the European stage (UEFA Champions League and later UEFA Europa League the following season). In 2014, he received a call-up to the Czech Republic Under-16 squad when he was still just 14 years old and scored on his debut against Germany.

His performances for club and country caused such a stir that Arsene Wenger saw off reported competition from Real Madrid and Chelsea and brought him to Arsenal in January 2015. A stint with the club’s youth sides followed but a transfer could only happen once Graiciar turned 16 and a permanent move never materialized.

After briefly returning to Plzeň, Graiciar stayed in the Czech top-flight but signed with Slovan Liberec in 2017. While there, he continued his excellent form for the national team and was part of the Czech Under-19 side that made it to the semi-finals of the European Championship before suffering a narrow loss to England. Graiciar found the net in a group-stage defeat to Portugal.

That same summer, he secured a dream move to Serie A and joined Fiorentina but was immediately loaned back to Liberec for another season. Despite injury derailing a large chunk of his campaign, Graiciar still struck four times in the league prior to departing for Florence. He was frequently on the bench for La Viola’s senior side, including for high-profile battles with behemoths like Juventus, Inter, Napoli and Lazio.

In 2019, Graiciar was loaned back to where it all began for him: Sparta Prague. And despite the move dovetailing with representing the Under-21 national side, injury again interrupted much of his season. Prior to signing with York United, he spent the 2021 campaign on loan at Czech top-tier side FK Mladá Boleslav.

“Martin’s pedigree and football education is second to none,” says CEO/President & GM Angus McNab.

“He possesses one of the most interesting backgrounds that we’ve ever seen in the Canadian Premier League so far. The experience he can share from such high-profile clubs like Sparta Prague, Arsenal and Fiorentina at just 22 is just fantastic, especially for our local lads like Isaiah [Johnston], Lowell [Wright] and Max [Ferrari]. He’s a very talented forward and we believe he can make a real impact with us.”

“My wife will probably kill me for going on the record with this but I actually signed the contract for Martin in the labor and delivery ward of Lenox Hill Hospital, waiting to be invited into the operating theatre before my son was born!”

“I am really happy to be part of this club,” Graiciar says.

“It’s an exciting time for the team, especially considering how last season ended with a playoff place. I’m just really looking forward to getting to Toronto now and for the season to begin, to be honest. And to all of our fans – who I’ve heard so much about – I can’t wait to meet you.”