What if I were to tell you a kid from Ottawa played college soccer. Seems valid.
What if I were to tell you this very kid then went on to tear his ACL. Recover. Score a couple of goals. Transfer to a top D1 program. And then tear his ACL again. Finally, after all of that, he lives out a childhood dream of becoming a professional soccer player.
Wait, it doesn’t stop there. It gets better.
This same kid also starts a sports agency where he represents collegiate and professional athletes, and now thousands of people follow the agency on social media, and now he and his brother are the faces of it.
I already know what you’re going to say to me, ‘Chris, when is this movie coming out? It seems cool.’
Well, ladies and gentlemen, this is no movie.
This is real life.
Let me introduce you to Jeff Addai, a technician on the field and an entrepreneur off of it.
THE JEFF ADDAI STORY
Born on March 11, 1993, in Ottawa, Canada, Jeff Addai loved soccer from day one.
His deep passion for the game led him to Spring Arbor University, a 4-year school in Michigan that competes in the NAIA.
Alongside his brother Godwin, Addai loved his transition to Spring Arbor.
Good weather, even better soccer, and family. Everything was seeming to go the young Canadian kid’s way. What could possibly go wrong, right?
Then came a nightmare.
A nightmare for any athlete. A nightmare that makes you tense up. A nightmare that no athlete ever wants to experience.
A torn ACL.
The best word to describe a tear of an ACL is ‘pain’. And although you can recover from an ACL tear, it’s a long and grueling process, both mentally and physically.
And sure enough, during his freshman year, the year where Addai was supposed to prove to the world why he was D1 caliber, the kid from Ottawa tore his ACL.
It was during this time when Addai laser-focused on one thing, getting back on the field as quickly as he could (but doing so in a safe manner, of course).
“I had never been through something like that before. I think I was just really good at being addicted to the process (of recovery). As soon as I got my timeline for my injury, I was so excited. I just wanted to get back on the field as fast as possible. I treated rehab as a game. If I had to do 10 burpees or 10 single-leg squats, I treated that as I would treat my games.” Addai said about recovering from a horrific injury.
The great Vince Lombardi once said, ‘The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack in will.’ It is safe to say Addai had that willpower, and that was the reason he powered through and came back from an injury many never come back from.
Following his injury, Jeff came back and had a strong second year at Spring Arbor, scoring the game-winning goal in the conference championship.
Then, just a year after having one of the worst injuries anybody could possibly get, Addai gets an opportunity of a lifetime.
An opportunity that is impossible to pass upon. An opportunity, that could flip his fortunes. From tearing your ACL as a freshman to signing a pro deal just a year later? Sounds good, doesn’t it?
So off he went, the Canadian kid soared through the air and traveled across the pond, landing in Tirana, the capital of Albania.
Tirana, a beautiful, ancient, scenic city, was home to KF Tirana, one of Albania’s top clubs.
“After my sophomore year, I got the opportunity to play with KF Tirana and I was trialing with them before going to the states, where I planned to play in the summer, then come back to Albania to sign a pro deal,” Addai stated.
However, things did not go as planned.
Addai’s future as a soccer player was in jeopardy after that summer.
“I came back to America and played with the Michigan Bucks of the PDL. It was in a game against the Chicago Fire, just one year after my ACL injury, and I tore my other ACL. And during that time, many big schools like Michigan State, Michigan, and Oakland which was a school I was so close to signing to, I still have a great relationship with Eric Pogue (Oakland U coach) to this day,” Addai said about the time when he tore his other ACL during the summer.
Due to his injury, the opportunity in Albania was wiped away in a blink of an eye.
But, one team, one school, remained in the picture.
The Gamecocks of South Carolina offered Addai a full scholarship to play for their program just two days before the second ACL tear.
Addai, hesitant that South Carolina would take away the offer, felt like a million bucks when he received word that they still wanted him at their program.
“Despite having to sit out for a year with the injury, they still had big plans for me. Without even seeing the campus, I took the offer. I am so happy I agreed and graduated from there,” Addai said about joining South Carolina.
So there he was. Moving to a place he has never seen before. With an injury that takes a year to heal. With the possibility of never playing again. But, most importantly, with a fire burning inside him to succeed. To prove all the doubters wrong. To be the best he can be.
All of this at a school, who could’ve easily joined the rest and turned their backs on Addai, decided to stay by his side. To make plans for him. To help him recover. A school, who truly believed him.
Believed in him.
During his time at South Carolina, Addai had some elite company around him.
NFL superstar, and former first overall pick, Javadeon Clowney was taking the college football scene by storm.
And Clowney’s teammate, Connor Shaw, was tossing football passes on a dime.
But little did they know the third superstar played on the pitch.
Little did they know that it was the Canadian kid. The one with the torn ACL, that would hobble around campus on crutches.
It was that very kid who would also take the next step and go on to play professionally.
Wait, so he did go pro?
Yes, yes he did.
After Addai recovered and played a season representing South Carolina, he went back to his hometown of Ottawa and signed a professional deal with the Ottawa Fury of the USL.
“Julian de Guzman was on my team in Ottawa, and he was also the team Canada captain at the time and had an amazing and successful career all throughout Europe,” Addai said about de Guzman, but his relationship with de Guzman isn’t just once being teammates.
It is much, much more than that.
“(de Guzman) put me in touch with an agent in Germany and that’s how I got the opportunity to sign my first pro contract there. It was so crazy, a whole new environment. Thankfully, I was in Albania not too many years before so I understood what it took to move away from home and be in another country,” Addai continued.
Off the professional Addai went.
Off to VFR Mannheim, a club with a deep history.
Mannheim won the German national title in 1949 after beating Borussia Dortmund, a club home to some of football’s most exciting stars such as Erling Haaland, Jadon Sancho, and Gio Reyna.
Video of VfR Mannheim winning the German Cup
As you may imagine, the level of play in Germany is high.
It’s technical. You always have to be scanning the field so you don’t get caught on the ball without a thought in your mind. And, it’s intense.
Thousands among thousands of fans fill the stadium to watch a fifth division team play.
It’s unheard of.
Addai talked about how good the play was in Germany, saying, “Germany was unreal. The competition was very high. It was super intense every day, going to training.”
However, as we all know, just a little bit of difficulty won’t set the Canadian kid back.
It will make him stronger, more relentless than ever.
Despite being in a new and foreign country where he didn’t know the language and the level of play was the highest he’s ever played at, he learned.
He took notes and got better.
“Eventually, I embraced the culture. I learned the language and things started to get easier. I started making friends, on and off the pitch. I feel like that was a great time in my life. For my career, and my personal life. I grew and connected with a lot of people I am still in great contact with now,” Addai said.
Jeff’s experience in Germany was one that changed his life, for the better.
To this day, Addai has zero regrets about going to the country and pursuing his dream there.
After all, it only made him better, on and off the pitch.
After the conclusion of the 17/18 season in Germany, Addai went back to his hometown of Ottawa and started training local kids alongside his brother Godwin.
A top player in the eyes of many Ottawa natives, they also started to see him as a top trainer.
Then, due to word-of-mouth from many happy customers, many more and older players wanted Jeff’s services.
As this influx of talent came to Jeff and Godwin, they realized they were on to something.
The Addai’s quickly got more advanced, not just training kids, but helping them connect with college coaches.
Thus, Ottawa Pro Sports Management (OPSM) was born.
Addai talked about how OPSM was born, saying, “It was really organic… many older players wanted us to help them play college soccer and eventually that turned into pro players. We (Jeff and Godwin) said ‘this is a legitimate business we have here, why don’t we make something of it’.”
Since the birth of OPSM, the company has expanded rapidly.
From having over 10,000 followers on Instagram to representing over 30 professional athletes and many more prospect athletes.
OPSM has also helped academy players make the jump to pro.
Players such as Antonio Carlini, Ryan Lindsay, and Themi Antonoglou have all made the step-up to pro thanks to OPSM.
On the field, Addai has still been balling as usual.
During the 18/19 USL Championship Season, Addai played for the Tulsa Roughnecks (now rebranded to FC Tulsa).
The engine on the midfield, Addai was named the team's vice-captain.
While in Tulsa, Jeff played alongside other OPSM athletes such as Matthew Sheldon, DJ Dean, Janu Silva, and many more!
Despite working with a 110% work rate day in and day out for Tulsa, the season didn’t go as planned.
At the beginning of the season, the boys in blue were clicking, winning games, and staying at the top of the table.
But it wouldn’t last very long.
As the season progressed, the club dropped down the table a bit, but that didn’t hurt Addai’s mindset.
To him, it wasn’t a setback. Rather, it was a season where he learned valuable lessons and improved his game both mentally and physically.
Following his lone year in Tulsa, a new move for Addai awaited.
A new move across the pond, again.
A new move that sees him play at a top European league.
A new move, to Vaasan Palloseura.
Vaasan Palloseura is a Finnish club with a beautiful soccer-specific stadium and a rich past that dates back to 1924.
“I think it’s a great move,” Addai said, “I think it’s a move that many players are going to start taking soon. I really wanted to get back into Europe. I was looking for options and some opportunities started popping up in Canada, but I really wanted to go back into the European market. Turning 27, I wanted to fulfill my dreams and I thought this move made sense. A top team with amazing facilities and amazing fans. At the end of the day, I am happy.”
Unlike in America, Finland has a promotion and relegation system. Meaning that a club in the second division can get promoted to the first division given they finish at a certain point in the table. For example, in England, there are three teams that get promoted to the top flight each year, while three teams from the top flight are relegated to the second tier each year.
“There is a lot more pressure on each game because of promotion and relegation. It makes it a lot more exciting. Meanwhile, USL is a lot more athletic, really strong, and fast. The two games (America and Finland) are two different games in a way, it’s weird for me to explain,” Addai stated about the differences between Finland and America.
A Canadian kid born and raised, Addai is making his home-country proud.
Addai is at the helm of a Canadian soccer rise, with more kids now participating in soccer than hockey in a country so known for their talent on the ice.
With talents like Alphonso Davies and Jonathan David, Canadian soccer is just getting started.
With OPSM, Addai is helping Canadian talents prosper into next-generation talents.
A truly class act who loves to score goals and chase dreams, Jeff Addai is making his childhood dreams come true.
Even when he’s done playing, Addai will have a vital role in the progression of Canadian soccer at all levels.
I have been writing for OPSM for seven months now, and I have nothing but great words for Jeff and his company! Baller of a player and a great guy!
To check out Jeff Addai on the OPSM database, click this link https://www.opsmpro.com/players/jeff-addai/
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Founder, The Sports Court
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Huge thank you to Jeff and OPSM for everything so far! We are just getting started! Make sure to check out their website https://www.opsmpro.com/
A huge sports fan who loves to learn about all sports, from every corner of the world!