New Team, New Captain

Nazim Belguendouz to Lead FC Montreal This Season

  • Midfielder Nazim Belguendouz (right) is the FC Montreal’s team captain for their inaugural season in the United Soccer League Photo Yacine Bouhali

When a brand new team hits the pitch, there are a lot of firsts. First ever home game, first ever coach or first ever logo. FC Montreal now has its first ever captain, Nazim Belguendouz.

Before arriving in the Montreal Impact academy system, Belguendouz cut his teeth in the province’s semi-pro league, the Première Ligue de Soccer du Québec (PLSQ). The central midfielder joined the ranks of CS Mont-Royal Outremont two years ago where he found the willingness to join the Impact.

“I was contemplating for many years the idea of joining the [Montreal Impact] academy,” said Belguendouz. “I had a shift [with Outremont] on the field physically and mentally and I told myself that it was time to try my luck, and they took me.”

His coach at the time, Luc Brutus said he became an imposing player with Outremont and now with FC Montreal.

“First, on the field he needed to be involved in every sense of the game, offensively or defensively. His shift also happened on the professional level,” said Brutus. “He understood what being a professional player was and he definitely became the best player on the squad on that level.”

After that season in the PLSQ, friends who worked at the semi-pro club got in contact with the Impact to try and get him a spot on the team. Belguendouz managed to get a three-day trial with the academy.

He made the under-23 team that was competing in their first season of the Premier Development League (PDL). He and Amine Meftouh were named co-captain of the squad. However, Meftouh left after the season ended. So, as FC Montreal enters its first season in USL, only Belguendouz wears the armband.

“I’m proud. I have been living in Montreal for many years and it’s something to be the captain of a pro team.”

He admits that stepping on the pitch for the first time as the captain of FC Montreal in a USL game was a moment full of goosebumps and excitement.

“Without taking anything away from the PDL, the USL is something much bigger,” said Belguendouz. “They are professionals and, of course, we expect a difficult start to the season. But everything should be fine and I think we are going to start accumulating wins.”

With the objective of marking the league on the field with a playing style different from other USL teams, Belguendouz keeps his head high and said he has support from his teammates.

“I think it’s a good choice,” said fellow midfielder Philippe Lincourt-Joseph. “He is a very consistent player who puts a lot of effort on the field and leads by example.”

“He is a good leader, he doesn’t need to speak up too much, but when he needs to he will,” said FC Montreal central defender Chakib Hocine, who played with Belguendouz in Brossard and
Outremont, before joining the Impact academy together. “He is also someone that will demonstrate on the field instead of talking too much.”

In the eyes of coach Brutus, players who drop from the Montreal Impact’s radar could develop their skills by playing in the PLSQ to learn how to become a professional. They can become players like Belguendouz who eventually make their way into the Impact or other clubs in Canada. The new captain’s path to professional soccer may become a template for young soccer players in
Quebec.

“Nazim Belguendouz is the perfect example of what the PLSQ is and should be in the future,” said the Outremont head coach. “The transition from being a good player to one that becomes a professional and he made it in a perfect way.”

“He shows with his example and work ethic what a professional should be. He is a perfect example for younger players entering or growing in the Impact academy.”

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