Imagine growing up watching your favorite football players ply their trade in various clubs, and years later, becoming an adult, many are rooting for. This incredible journey happened to Jeff Addai, a midfielder currently playing for Finnish club Vaasan Palloseura (VPS).
Jeff, born in 1993 in Ottawa, Canada, was drawn to football as a child, often watching his childhood heroes playing on TV before trying to replicate their moves when playing with his friends after school. He had his headset on becoming a professional football player, a feat he later achieved as an adult.
Forging a career in football while growing up in a country where ice hockey and lacrosse are the prevalent sports can be a daunting task, but Jeff was determined to achieve his dreams of becoming a professional footballer. He started by playing for Ottawa South United as a teenager and captained the team at 13, dominating Canada at the youth level.
His love for football led him to Spring Arbor University, where he played for their football team. In his first year, Jeff experienced every footballer’s worst dream – a torn ACL. After a lengthy period on the sidelines, Jeff came back and had a strong year with the team while healing from the injury.
“I scored the match-winning goal in the conference championship, and this pushed me to do even better. No injury could put me down,” he says.
After his sophomore year, he got a chance to play for KF Tirana, one of Albania’s top clubs. After trialing with the club, he went back to the United States, planning to play in the summer then go back to Tirana to sign a pro deal. Life threw him a curveball, and he tore his other ACL playing for the Michigan Bucks against Chicago Fire.
“I thought my football career was over before it had even started, but the University of South Carolina stood by me and gave me a full scholarship, even though they knew that I was out for a year with the injury.”
He later signed for his local professional club, Ottawa Fury, before playing for VfR Mannheim in Germany. His journey took him to the USL Championship club Tulsa Roughnecks in 2019, where he was named club vice-captain. A year later, the midfield maestro signed a three-year contract with the Finnish club VPS, where he continues to show why he is known as the engine in the midfield.
From watching football as a kid to playing in Europe, Jeff Addai is making his childhood football dreams come true.