One Goliath soccer dream comes true

GETTING AHEAD: Jorgo Nika, in blue, was a standout performer during East York’s regular season. He helped his squad win the South Region championship, and now has earned his way into a 2nd Bundesliga team’s farm system in Germany.

Jorgo Nika playing with Eintracht Braunschweig under-19 squad

Jorgo Nika stands out.

But it’s not just his size that attracts attention. The East York grade 12’s on-field abilities helped lead his senior boys Goliaths to a South Region title, earned himself an MVP nod in the Canadian Soccer League and got some attention from under-19 team Eintracht Braunschweig in Germany.

“For the last four years I have worked really hard on having a good first touch, a great pass and a hard shot,” he wrote in an email, as he’s in Lower Saxony training with his new German team. “If you have good technique, it shows, it stands out and that’s what I think makes me stand out.”

The striker found himself motivated to work after failing to make the cut at the TFC Academy at age 16.

With resolve, he laboured to improve his skills and at age 18, he’s made it into Eintracht Braunschweig’s farm system.

“I realized that I had to work harder to be better than everyone else,” he said. “Getting cut motivated me to put in extra work on improving my skills.

“Now that I think about it, it was probably for the best because of the way things turned out.”

Jorgo’s father, Spiro, admitted over the phone that he got his son started when he was 3 years old while living in southern Albania.

“He is my product,” Spiro said, with a laugh. “I taught him everything in the field.”

The Nika family moved to East York when Jorgo was seven, and Jorgo started playing recreationally at 12.

Soccer is a universal language, Jorgo said, because even though he can’t speak German, his new teammates help him adjust to the new system.

“The coach and the guys on the team try hard to make sure I understand what’s going on and that makes things a lot easier,” he said.

Nika is unsure he’ll be back at East York CI for the City playoffs, but he said regular season play was an example of what happens when a team perseveres and shows heart.

“This year we had a good group of guys that all wanted to win and, except for one game, we did just that,” he said. “We started the season kind of sloppy, we were winning but it just didn’t feel right.

“After our loss to Western Tech, we all realized that the championship wasn’t going to be handed to us and that we had to work for it,” he added. “That was the turning point. From then on we didn’t concede any goals and won every playoff game with authority.”

As for his footie wanderlust in Deutschland, it’s not over just yet.

“The fact that I’m in a different country doesn’t change the game,” he said. “Even though I made it, I have only scratched the surface because I want to play with the (second Bundesliga) team.

“That’s my goal, and then I can say I made it.”

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