One of the brightest young players in a new generation of Canadian talent, Derek Cornelius joined Whitecaps FC via transfer from Serbian side FK Javor Ivanjica in January 2019 after making his Canadian men’s national team debut in September 2018 and being named the 2018 Canadian Youth International Player of the Year.
In July 2021, Cornelius signed to a contract extension through 2022, with a club option for 2023. He was also loaned, with an option to purchase, to Greek Super League side Panetolikos FC through 2022.
'21: Cornelius made one start in five MLS appearances before signing a contract extension through 2022, with a club option for 2023, as he was loaned in August to Greek Super League side Panetolikos FC through 2022 with an option to purchase.
'20: Cornelius finished his second season in MLS with 11 starts and 13 appearances during the shortened schedule. Per 90 minutes, he improved on his output from the previous year in several categories including recoveries, aerials won, duels won, interceptions, and tackles won. In addition, Cornelius also played every minute of their Round of 16 matchup with Sporting Kansas City at the MLS is Back Tournament.
'19: Cornelius played an important role in the 'Caps backline, making 16 starts in 17 appearances in his first MLS season, including an added-time equalizer at Sporting Kansas City in his only substitute appearance. He also made one start and appearance in the Canadian Championship.
'17-'19: Prior to arriving in Vancouver, Cornelius spent two years with FK Javor Ivanjica, making 29 starts in 31 total appearances while competing in the Serbian SuperLiga in 2017-18, and the First League in 2018-19.
'14-'16: Cornelius began his professional career in Germany, scoring two goals in 18 total appearances for VfB Lübeck and VfR Neumünster in the Regionalliga.
Cornelius earned his first cap for the Canada men’s national team in September 2018. He made three senior appearances for Les Rouges in 2018, helping the national team to clean sheets in Concacaf Nations League qualifying in each outing. He played every minute in Canada's four matches at the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup, earning a Best XI recognition for his performance during group play. He also featured in 2019 Concacaf Nations League play, highlighted by his contributions to the historic shutout win over the United States in October. After making his debut in the national youth program at age 15, Cornelius was honoured as the 2018 Canadian Youth International Player of the Year in part for his leadership and performance with Canada U-21 at the prestigious Festival International Espoirs Provence in France. Cornelius helped lead Canada to an undefeated group stage, in which they conceded just one goal in three matches against Portugal, Turkey, and Japan, and wore the captain’s armband in their group stage finale. In March 2021, he also wore the captain's armband for the U-23 team at the Concacaf Olympic Qualifiers, scoring a goal against Honduras.
Cornelius began his youth soccer with Ajax Thunder, then with North York Spartacus in his native province of Ontario. He moved overseas and played for Russian club PFC CSKA Moscow, then with German club VfB Lübeck. He would make his professional debut for Lübeck in 2014.
Cornelius is born to a Barbadian father and a Jamaican mother in Ajax, Ontario... He was teammates with Whitecaps FC players Russell Teibert and Maxime Crépeau on the Canadian men’s national team during 2019-20 Concacaf Nations League qualifying... He was also teammates with young WFC first-team players Michael Baldisimo and Theo Bair on Canada U-21 at the 2018 Festival International Espoirs Provence in France.