“I don’t think they get scripted any better.”
Those were the words of Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson in describing the signing of David Norman Jr. to an MLS Homegrown contract.
The Coquitlam Metro-Ford SC product has a fantastic story. His dad played professionally for the ‘Caps and 86ers, and for Canada at the 1986 FIFA World Cup. Following in his footsteps, Norman Jr. began playing with the ‘Caps Prospects when he was nine-years-old, moving through the club's pathway into the Residency program and then USL.
It’s an endearing tale, however Robinson made it clear that this is an opportunity Norman has fully earned on his own merit.
“[His MLS contract was] not done for any reason other than he deserves to play here. If he wasn’t good enough, he wouldn’t be here.”
Having seen him step into new challenges from youth to pro soccer, Robinson and his staff have been most impressed with the young midfielder’s mentality.
“David Norman is the epitome of what any young player should be,” tells Robinson. “He’s hungry, his attitude is spot on, he wants to learn, and he lives and sleeps football. He comes in every morning with a smile on his face and he gets to work straight away. If he’s got a question, he asks you. If you give him information, good or bad, he responds to it.”
It’s that internal drive that saw Norman named 2017 Whitecaps FC 2 Player of the Year after his rookie season in USL, leading the team in duels won, chances created, and assists.
“The one key attribute that sticks out to me is if he makes a mistake, he’s always reacting and responding in the right way,” noted Robinson. “He was forever driving the USL team forward last year. Even when the team is losing, he’s running to take a corner, running to take a throw in, he’s setting a tackle to get the crowd behind him and his team to give them that spark that they need.”
While Norman now joins the first team roster, Robinson emphasized that the hard work is only just beginning for the 19-year-old, and that he will have to continue progressing to earn playing time ahead of his more experienced teammates.
“His body’s still growing, he’s still getting stronger, [and] he still wants to work. When he gets the opportunity in preseason he’s got to show that he wants to compete with those midfield players. And if he does, then we’ll all be happy because the story continues to roll.”