Few players are quite as physically imposing as Skylar Thomas.
Valour FC’s historic first signing stands at 6-foot-3 and isn’t afraid to use that size advantage as he clears the ball out of the area, challenges attackers for possession and throws himself at a cross in the opposite box.
In fact, it’s exactly those traits that Valour FC head coach Rob Gale was looking for when he signed the former Canadian Under-23 international.
“We’re absolutely delighted to have Skylar Thomas as our first official signing,” Gale told CanPL.ca. “He’s a player I’ve had the pleasure of working with in the past, and he’s vastly experienced for his age. He’s a good leader, a great athlete and he’s got good stature for a centre-back.”
Gale added: “He can be a weapon for us … and above all, he’s the right character for us.”
Thomas is new to the City of Winnipeg, having grown up in Toronto playing for Toronto FC II before moving to the Charleston Battery in 2017. He and Gale worked together at the Olympic level, and Thomas was left with a strong impression of his new club’s head coach.
“He is very understanding,” Thomas told CanPL.ca, of Gale. “He’s a player’s coach. Rob likes to interact with the players and make sure they are comfortable. That’s definitely what drew me to him.
“He and I are really excited to get this thing going. We’re both on the same page; we want to go in and effect the football culture in Winnipeg and show the fans a solid brand of football.
“There is a lot of talent in Canada and we’re excited to finally show it off.”
The Syracuse University standout first turned heads in 2015, when he was drafted 11th overall in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft by his hometown Toronto FC. He joined the club’s affiliate team, TFC II, and amassed 47 appearances in the USL over two seasons.
Thomas has also represented Canada at multiple youth national team levels, and hopes a return to regular football with Valour FC can catch the eye of John Herdman’s senior team.
For now, Thomas is squarely focused on his team’s goals, affirming he “can’t wait to get out to Winnipeg and start winning games.”
“Since all teams in the CPL are on an even playing field, it’s all up for grabs,” Thomas said.
“The national team is definitely something that’s in the back of my head. I try not to think of it too much — I do just want to get out there and perform. But all I know is if myself and my team play well, there might be some call-ups.”
He’s also relishing the significance of his signing as CPL squads begin to take shape.
“Hopefully a couple years down the line I can look back and say ‘Wow, I can’t believe I was one of the first players to get this thing going’,” Thomas said.
“It’s very exciting to get Canadian soccer moving in the right direction and I know when I look back I’ll be very proud.”