January 14, 2021 was a big day for Amer Didic.
The 26-year-old made headlines twice within hours of each other on that Thursday, earning a call-up to the Canadian national team shortly before FC Edmonton announced the defender’s return to the club for the 2021 CPL season.
Already, this year is looking up for Didic, who is sure to be the defensive linchpin of Edmonton’s newly-rebuilt squad under coach Alan Koch.
“For me it was just a no-brainer to come back here to be able to play in my hometown under a new staff, which I was very excited about, and just get back to playing,” Didic told CanPL.ca.
Of course, Didic — like many of the top players in the CPL — wouldn’t have spurned an opportunity to move to a higher level this off-season. Having not quite cracked the Sporting Kansas City lineup during his time with the MLS club, Didic would be happy for another opportunity at moving up.
However, that’s no reason to lightly throw away a good situation. Better to play consistent football as one of the league’s most dominant defenders than fight for minimal playing time elsewhere, especially after a 2020 in which he played just three club games due to an ankle injury at The Island Games. The fact that he did play those three games was incredible — after Didic went down in Edmonton’s first game, he himself assumed he’d be out weeks or months.
It’s a testament to Didic’s character and work ethic that he did return so quickly. Had he not been injured in the first place, the Eddies’ Island Games campaign may have gone quite differently.
Now, with Koch at the helm of the Eddies, Didic is feeling optimistic about the squad’s ability to climb out of the CPL’s Wooden Spoon race. So far, early signs from the past few weeks have been promising.
“Everyone’s really excited and it’s just even more exciting now that we’re back into it,” Didic said. “I hadn’t met (Koch) until last week in person, so it was all through the phone and through text messages and stuff, but since day one everything has been spot on with what he’s said he aims to do at the club, with what he says training will look like, how the mentality will look like, and just starting the gym sessions it’s been exactly like that, word for word.”
He added: “(Koch) and the coaching staff, they have their goals, they have their ways of doing things, and that’s another big thing with a new coaching staff. You get those new experiences, those new ways of learning, those new opportunities to grow as a player and as a team. You can tell right away just starting this early that the coaching staff and the players are on a mission, and that mission is to obviously compete for the championship.”
The coming year will, of course, be a crucial one for Didic on an individual level, as well. Having recently returned to the national team setup after making his debut in a friendly eons ago (last January), the ball-moving centre-back could be a legitimate option for John Herdman’s side during the busy gauntlet of World Cup qualifiers and Gold Cup matches coming in 2021.
“The national team is always a goal of mine to be a part of that, and it’s never easy,” Didic said.
“For me it’s all about getting back onto the field, training, pushing myself and working hard every day, and controlling what I can control. If I’m lucky enough to be selected into a group, into a camp with some important games, then I feel that all that work is justified and I’ll go out there and do the best I can to help win games for this country, which at the end of the day is the number one goal.”