25-year-old midfielder Ryan Telfer has been a star player in the burgeoning Canadian Premier League: he’s scored four league goals (along with two in the Canadian Championship, including one against Montreal), has consistently looked dangerous, and even bagged an assist when he made a three-minute substitute appearance for his parent club, Toronto FC.
The form of the former York Lion has impressed TFC head coach Greg Vanney, with Telfer crediting his good MLS showing to his time spent in the Canadian Premier League. To that end, he’s been called the perfect prototype for what a loan in the Canadian Premier League can do for a player.
So, it shouldn’t be surprising to hear that there are rumours of a potential national team call-up in Ryan’s future, with the caveat that it’s not only one country looking at the winger. While Telfer is eligible to play for Canada, he could also play for Trinidad and Tobago. Recent rumours have indicated that he may get an invitation from the latter, where he spent some sixteen years growing up.
When asked by Vince Alvarado of the Nine Stripes Podcast about the rumours and if he could make a decision between representing Canada or Trinidad and Tobago when it comes to starting an international career, Telfer was honest in his answer: it’s a difficult decision.
"It's something I've been looking at myself. Every good player has represented their national country of choice, and it's an opportunity that's supposedly coming towards me. I have to make a certain choice on who I would like to represent. Honestly, at this point it's hard to say which one to go towards."
With Telfer having strong attachments to both countries, it’s absolutely fair for him to take his time with the decision – though neither Canada nor Trinidad and Tobago have made their efforts to court the player come in a highly public manner as of yet. With the Nations League matches coming up in the near future, however, that might be subject to change. Telfer knows it.
"Coming towards September, there's going to be Nations League games. You know, those are important games for both countries. To this point it whoever is willing to give me the opportunity. I don't want to step into that area of thinking, you know, I'm just going here just for show. I want to go there and make a difference. It's up to whoever is willing to let me do that. When the time comes, I'll have to make that choice."
It’s wise thinking from the 25-year-old: if he gets cap-tied to a country that only plays him a handful of times, it’s not the greatest career move when compared to representing a country that might give him opportunities to play consistently down the road.
Teal Bunbury once made a similar decision: eligible to play for both Canada and the United States, the Hamilton-born forward eventually decided on the Stars and Stripes. Given that he was the son of Canadian international Alex Bunbury (who wants to start a CPL club in Montreal), the move didn’t set well with Canadian fans.
York9 FC gaffer Jim Brennan, perhaps sensing that a Teal Bunbury-like situation may arise, chimed in and offered his support for Telfer:
"We've talked about it. At the end of the day, he's got to make a decision which is best for his career, so he'll take his time with it. Whichever one he chooses, we'll support because he deserves it. It's always nice to be recognized by two countries that want him to come play. It's an important decision he has to make, but whatever it is, as a club, star, and players, we'll support that decision that he makes."
Whichever way the decision goes, Telfer’s time spent playing in the Canadian Premier League helped put him on the radar for the national teams of both countries, and that’s exactly what the league is designed to do: give domestic players minutes on the pitch in a professional environment to help them showcase their skills.
In Telfer’s case, it evidently hasn’t taken long for him to showcase exactly what he brings to the table. To that end, the 25-year-old has some big decisions coming up in his future: aside of potentially declaring for a national team, his contract with Toronto FC is set to expire later on this year. It’ll be interesting to see if he renews with his MLS club, joins York9 FC on a free, or does something entirely different.
Whatever happens, the Canadian Premier League allowed him to flourish, and that can only help attract more players oh his caliber to the league in the future.
SOURCE: Northern Tribune