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Noah Eisenberg, from Mount Royal to Gibraltar

Montrealer Noah Eisenberg plays professional soccer in Gibraltar. He hopes one day to have the chance to play for CF Montreal. Your interest is piqued? Wait to read more.

Posted Oct 31, 2021

Jean-Francois Teotonio

Jean-Francois Teotonio
The Press

He left Quebec at age 19 with a scholarship in his pocket to play soccer at Birmingham-Southern College in Alabama.

After a year, Eisenberg had “the most uncomfortable conversation in [sa] life” with his coach in Birmingham, when he told him he was giving up his scholarship to try his luck in Europe.

“I spent three months in Belgium,” says the Montrealer joined in Marbella, Spain. Among the Belgians, he did a trial with Waasland-Beveren, the former club of a certain Rudy Camacho. “It was the best coaching I had and the best level I played. »

“Then I went to Northern Ireland, where I signed my first contract. »

He got along with Deriaguy, a semi-pro team in the Irish Fourth Division, before signing in the Third Division with Lurgan Celtic. But the team declares bankruptcy. “Really bad luck,” he recalls.

“I had no money at that point. A friend put me in touch with a second division team in Wales, which was called Llangefni Town. »

It was 2019. Eisenberg was 21. After the first practice, the team tells him that they want him to sign a contract. But the transfer window must close imminently. “I had 10 days to sign my contract, find where I wanted to live, get a visa. I did not have the time. »

” I was really sad. I came back to Canada at that time. »

He continued to train and ended up getting along with the Dakota Fusion, a semi-pro team in the American Fourth Division, associated with Minnesota United FC, in MLS.

We are in 2020. You can imagine what will happen next.

“The season has been canceled due to COVID-19. »

Upon his return to Canada, Noah Eisenberg hires an agent. “My agent called the Wales team back. […] In July 2020 I signed with Llangefni Town. »

How to describe the level?

“Wales is a war. When you jump for a 50-50 duel in the air, be ready to fight for your life. They are crazy over there. This is the biggest difference I have seen between Quebec and Europe. »

“When you do a drill in training in Wales, the technical level is lower than in Belgium. It’s not the best football. But the intensity, it was crazy. »

But who says 2020 says bad news.

“The season was cancelled, but I was there for two months and we had a few friendlies. »

After several postponements, then the cancellation again for the 2021 season, he resigns himself to looking for new horizons with his agent. The possibility of being loaned to a first division team, whose season was not canceled, arises. But now Brexit comes to close this door.

“Brexit and COVID, the two together, it didn’t help. The rules were very strict. They asked me what visa I was on and I didn’t have the correct one. The visa to play in the United Kingdom, for a person who does not have the passport, it does not exist. »

“I was very angry. I loved Wales, I loved the style, I loved my team. I had the option of going to play in the first division. It would have changed my career. They play in the Champions League and the Europa League. »

In Montreal, Noah Eisenberg, who has an Israeli passport, discusses with his agent the possibility of going to Israel. “Mid-July 2021, I receive a text message. He tells me it’s closed, Israel. »

“At that point, I wanted to kill someone, he says, half laughing, half exasperated. I train every day, I wait. And the doors close one after another. For five, six days, I didn’t want to train anymore. »

That’s when Gibraltar’s offer fell from the sky. The president of the club Europa Point FC contacted him to announce that he would have a contract for the season. “It just worked,” he recalls, with a sigh of relief.

But was he just relieved to be able to play, or was he really interested in the challenge of Gibraltar?

“I tell everyone that the Premier League may be the smallest country, but you have to be a good player to be able to play there. »

Under the sun, at the foot of the rock

A real way of the cross, therefore, to end up in this tiny state in the very south of Spain. It is also on the north side of the border that Eisenberg is installed.

“I live in Marbella. It’s wonderful, it’s crazy. I am very happy. »

“We train more in Spain than in Gibraltar. The apartment is cheaper. When [mon propriétaire] offered me to live in Marbella, I did not hesitate. Yes, I drive 45 minutes to go to training, but for me it’s 10 times better. »

And what is the salary like?

“My apartment and my car are paid for, and they give me some pocket money. But it’s not really a salary. If you add it all up, it’s about $15,000 a year. »

“But I play in the first division. The objective is to be taken by a bigger team. Come here, you’re on a salary. »

In Gibraltar, all the clubs play in the same place: the Victoria Stadium, at the foot of the rock. The first teams in the table participate in the qualifications of the Champions League, the Europa League and the Europa Conference League the following year. This season, The Lincoln Red Imps are playing the group stage of the latter competition, which is in its first season of existence.

The Montreal dream

Noah Eisenberg makes no secret of it: he “100%” wants to play for CF Montreal.

“In my life, if I played in front of my family, my friends, my dreams would come true. »

But the 23-year-old thinks he’d better get his education across the Atlantic before considering North America.

“It’s better to play in Europe, make a name for myself there, and then come back. […] It’s difficult at 26, 27 to go back to Europe. In North America, it’s okay because there are a lot of college players. They are 25, 26 years old. I’m only 23, I have time. »

However, there is no question of looking up on an occasion in the Canadian Premier League, for example. “If the offer is good, if I have an option, I’m not going to say no. I’m open. »

Until then, God knows where soccer will take him.

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