Without question, Toronto is a huge sports city. But amid the ice hockey, basketball and baseball, football – or soccer – is making itself heard. Toronto FC was founded in 2006 and joined Major League Soccer for the 2007 season. The team attracts big crowds to its 22,000-seater stadium and had looked playoff contenders this season until a costly late slump and the departure of manager Preki.

Nana Attakora has been a Toronto FC player since day one and the defender has seen the ups and downs first hand. He is just 21 years of age, but is already a key man for his club and made his international debut for Canada this year.

Attakora sat down with Inside Futbol’s Tom Oldfield to discuss the club’s development over the past four years:

TO: How has Toronto FC changed in the time that you have been here?

NA: When you get to know this club, it is a very, very interesting club. We have had five managers in four years, but we haven’t performed the best and haven’t made the post-season yet. I’ve been here since day one and every year has been a different year with a new coach, a different style of football and new players.


TO: What was the setup like on day one and how has that developed over the years?

NA: The setup has been great. The city fell in love with the club right away. I was a young player – I was 17 when I came in – with a bunch of seasoned pros like Jim Brennan and Carl Robinson. It was a great learning experience for me in the first two years and the club has just continued to grow with a lot of players coming in and out.

TO: How does it feel as a soccer club in Toronto? Especially competing for attention from the media and fans against other sports like ice hockey, basketball and baseball, which are more established in the city.

NA: You would think it would be tough, but the fans have grown to love this club. We sell out every game and even the Raptors [basketball] and some other top teams in Toronto don’t manage to sell out every game. With the fans and the business side, we really cannot complain because they have done an excellent job for the club.

TO: Toronto FC fans have gained a reputation as some of the noisiest in the MLS. How important have they been for the club?

NA: The fans have been great and they’ve been like that ever since day one. Some fans who have come over from the UK have compared the fans at Toronto FC games to some of the fans over there. Our fans have a good understanding of the game and they’re very passionate – but in the UK it’s more of a religion. Here it is more a case of families coming to see games.

TO: How do you think the MLS itself has changed since Toronto FC have been in the league?

NA: When David Beckham came in as the first DP [designated player] that was the move that really changed everything here. Now we’ve got the Thierry Henrys, the Marquezs coming over. And you see it – the league is getting bigger. On a more global scale, people are starting to respect the league more which is important for the MLS.

TO: What is your overall assessment of Toronto FC’s season this year?

NA: We started well, but we had a tough month and a half where a lot of changes affected the club off the field. But we’re all still hanging in there. I’m a young player, so it’s all a good chance for me to be growing up in the game of football and learning every day. I’m just trying to take it all in.