With the addition of Randy Samuel to the new Richmond Sports Wall of Fame at the Richmond Oval, youth soccer in the city is well represented yet again.
Samuel had a long and illustrious career as a professional footballer, with his senior career spanning some 18 years – from 1983-2001.
Having represented Canada with 82 caps between 1983 and 1997, including 35 World Cup qualifiers, and three matches at the 1986 FIFA World Cup in Mexico, Samuel has his place among select company in Canadian soccer lore. Some 30 years onward, that remains the only Canadian Men’s National Team to have qualified for the World Cup tournament.
Born in the township of Point Fortin in Trinidad, Samuel, together with his his family, would later settle here in Richmond, where he began his youth soccer days with the South Arm Warriors at the age of 12, and later graduated from McNair Secondary.
A quick overview of the scrappy centre back’s resume bears testament to the adage that the more things change, the more they stay the same. He was a pioneer of sorts in the Canadian soccer landscape – developing what would eventually become his trade here at home, but subsequently drawn to the much greener pastures (or perhaps more aptly, pitches) offered abroad when it came to following opportunities to develop as a professional.
Samuel began his career as a pro in 1983 with a stint in Alberta, with the Edmonton Eagles of the short-lived Canadian Professional Soccer League. He signed with the Vancouver Whitecaps the year after, but never played for the club, and returned briefly to the Eagles before the CPSL folded.
From there, the Trinidadian’s soccer history reads more like an extract from Fodor’s Europe:
Netherlands – Samuel played first for fabled club PSV Eindhoven, then FC Volendam, and Fortuna Sittard in the Dutch Eredivisie.
England – Signed with First Division side Port Vale, scoring for the Valiants in his debut match.
Norway – Samuel played one season with Harstad IL in the Norwegian First Division.
The Canadian centre back returned to Canada the following year, playing for the Vancouver 86ers in the 1998 season. Samuel rounded out his career with a return to Harstad for a season, followed by a return to North America, where he played 28 games in the USL A-League.
Despite spending the majority of his professional soccer career half a world away, Samuel continued throughout that time to answer the call of Canadian national team duty.
His induction to the Richmond Sports Wall of Fame, which opens today at the Richmond Oval is the latest in a number of awards and recognitions that Randy Samuel has received, including:
• CSA’s 2001 Aubrey Sanford Meritorious Award for outstanding commitment and achievement to the cause of Canadian soccer
• 2006 Induction into the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame
• 2012 Named to CSA’s All-Time Canada XI Men’s Team