PREVIEW – Red Star Belgrade and CanMNT goalkeeper Milan Borjan will return to his hometown of Hamilton, Ontario as his team takes on the USMNT. This game will be extra special for Borjan as he will play at Tim Hortons Field.
Milan Borjan: Childhood and Reasons for Playing for the CanMNT
On Milan Borjan: After Canada's historic 2019 win over the U.S. at BMO Field, he once told me and a few others that he would love to finish his career in the #CanPL and that Canada was the perfect place to one day raise his newborn child, citing the importance of education
— Michael Singh (@MichaelSingh94) December 21, 2021
Borjan was born in Knin, Yugoslavia. His family lived in Knin until Operation Storm in 1995. Operation Storm was the last major battle of the Croatian War of Independence. This allowed Milan Borjan to get his first experience playing soccer in Belgrade. There he played for FK Radnički Beograd. Then in 2000, his family emigrated to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. However, after a few months in Winnipeg, Borjan and his parents settled in Hamilton, Ontario. Borjan’s parents still live in Hamilton, Ontario according to Steve Milton of the Spectator Columnist.
In Milton’s article, it was stated that Borjan could have played for Croatia or Serbia. At that time Canada was about to enter the dark ages of its national team’s history. However, when looking at it from his perspective, it makes sense:
“That’s my way of returning the favour for taking my family in during the war,” Borjan said this week from Austria where, as Canada’s first-string goalkeeper, he’ll backstop the national team in friendlies against lightly-regarded Azerbaijan and No. 66 Uzbekistan. “The nicest way to pay back is to help Canada fight to make the World Cup.”
The CanMNT’s Connection to Hamilton
— Forge FC (@ForgeFCHamilton) December 5, 2021
Borjan really enjoyed his time with Mount Hamilton FC and said this: “Just playing in Canada for Mount Hamilton is a great memory for me. We had a lot of fine players. When I was a kid, I always wanted to play pro, and Mount Hamilton was one of the big steps along the way to that.”
Borjan has become a leader for the CanMNT. He had everyone in the huddle after the CanMNT made the final round of World Cup qualifying. Milan Borjan also took ownership for his mistake in the Gold Cup quarterfinals’ loss to Haiti in 2019. Also in 2019, Borjan was there to calm Richie Laryea down in Canada’s memorable 2-0 win over the U.S. at BMO Field. This is what Laryea said according to Armen Bedakian, a Supervising Editor for the Canadian Premier League.
“Obviously, I was on a high from the game, playing really well, and it was just really intense. So, I was a little bit too emotional at that time, and he helped me calm down,” Laryea recalled when asked the same question by CanPL.ca. “It was good for the group that he did that. It calmed down everyone else as well.”
— OneSoccer (@onesoccer) January 28, 2022
Borjan has become the leader of the team, seen in yesterday’s Concacaf Octagonal World Cup qualifying game against Honduras. Canada’s next game will be at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, Ontario against the USMNT. The game will take place at 3:05 p.m. ET. It will be televised nationally on Sportsnet and shown on OneSoccer and Telus.
Photo Credit: Canada Soccer on January 27, 2022.