Pacific FC land former USL goalkeeper Callum Irving

Callum Irving always knew what position he wanted to play in soccer. Dad Rob Irving guarded the goal for Simon Fraser University, so it’s almost genetic.

“It’s in the blood,” said the younger Irving.

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It led to NCAA Div. 1 with the University of Kentucky Wildcats, a pro career in the United Soccer League, a cap for Canada, and now a contract with Pacific FC for the 2020 Canadian Premier League season.

Irving will form the PFC goaltending tandem with returning Nolan Wirth, the Comox product who played NCAA Div. 1 in the Pac 12 for the Oregon State Beavers.

“Nolan and I trained together nearly every day in the Vancouver Whitecaps Residency program and know each other very well,” said Irving.

“To play pro in my province is a fantastic opportunity,” said the 26-year-old Vancouver native.

“I love what I do. I take my career seriously and professionally and don’t take any opportunity for granted.”

Irving backstopped Kentucky to NCAA tournament berths in three of his four seasons with the Wildcats, earning notice for the soccer team at what is a famous basketball university. He was a two-time all-America and two-time Conference USA player of the year.

“It was an eye-opening experience. Kentucky is known for its basketball team, but there was also good support for soccer and I am proud of what we did with the Wildcats and loved my time there,” he said

That was followed by 79 pro appearances in the USL with the Rio Grande Valley Toros and Ottawa Fury, the latter where Irving set a record by playing every minute of the season in 36 matches, totalling 3,240 minutes, for the Fury.

Irving has one cap for Canada. It came in a 4-2 victory over Bermuda in 2017 in a game that has become quirkily known in the annals of Canadian soccer. It was pre-determined that Irving would play the first half and Sean Melvin of Victoria the second half in goal. But Melvin got hurt in the second half and FIFA substitution rules prohibited Irving from returning to the game. So defender Adam Straith of Victoria had to play in goal for Canada. As strangely as the situation in the fixture turned out, it remains a burning memory.

“Playing for Canada was a highlight of my career and is a moment I will always cherish,” said Irving.

Also playing in that game for Canada against Bermuda was current PFC midfielder Ben Fisk, who is Irving’s good friend.

Six-foot-one is not considered tall by today’s pro goalkeeping standards, but Irving has found ways to compensate.

“I’m not the biggest guy but I make up for it through presence, communication, technique and positioning,” said Irving.

PFC clearly agrees by inking him.

“Callum has been an excellent technical keeper in the United Soccer League for many years,” said PFC head coach Pa-Modou Kah.

The signing of Irving brings Pacific FC’s roster to 15 heading into the 2020 CPL season.

cdheensaw@timescolonsit.com

Twitter.com/tc_vicsports

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