Where are they now: Jeff Clarke
WHERE HE WAS: Born in Coquitlam, BC, Jeff Clarke grew up watching Vancouver 86ers lifting Canadian Soccer League (CSL) championship trophies at Swangard Stadium, dreaming one day that that would be him. Well, that dream turned out to come true.
Jeff first signed for the 86ers in 1997 and played on the team as a sweeper (centre back). After one season with the club Jeff pursued a career in Europe, where he played for St Patrick’s Athletic FC in the League of Ireland. Jeff helped St Patrick’s win two championships.
Jeff would rejoin Whitecaps FC in 2002 and played in 155 games for the ‘Caps up until 2008, helping the team to two USL championships – including lifting the trophy at Swangard Stadium in 2008 just as he had dreamed . “As captain, I lifted the cup in front of 6,000 plus fans at Swangard Stadium,” remembers Clarke. “It was the last game my mother got to see me play in and it was something I had dreamed about since I was 10 years old.”
WHERE HE WENT: On the international level, Jeff played for Canada at the U-17 FIFA Youth World Cup in Japan in 1993, and the 1997 FIFA Youth World Cup in Malaysia, where he would captain the team throughout the qualifying rounds and into the finals. Jeff went on to represent Canada at the senior international level, getting 19 caps for his country.
A career highlight for Jeff was the CONCACAF Gold Cup win in 2000, as Canada overcame great odds to win their first and only men’s major international tournament title. “I played with some amazing players on that team, and to win a major tournament like the Gold Cup for your country was a dream come true,” said Clarke.
WHERE HE IS NOW: After leaving Whitecaps FC, Jeff remained in the soccer world as he took on the role of technical director for Surrey Guilford United.
Today, he continues as technical director with Surrey United, one of the eight EA SPORTS BC Soccer Premier League clubs. This past weekend saw his club's U-15 boys and U-15 girls teams win the league cup in the inaugural season of the BCSPL.
In his spare time, Jeff still plays with Surrey United Firefighters, who are one of the best teams in the men’s premier division of the Vancouver Metro Soccer League. Mr. Clarke also finds the time to coach the powerhouse Surrey United women’s team as they fight for national championships year after year.
Away from soccer Jeff has been a big supporter of charitable causes, having run his own golf tournament with all of the proceeds going to cancer research. He is also now the co-leader of a cycling team who have participated in the Ride to Conquer Cancer.
When it comes to role models for aspiring players and ambassadors for growing the game in the Lower Mainland, there have been few better than Jeff Clarke.