The Halifax Wanderers are excited to announce the signing of Canadian midfielder Jeremy Gagnon-Laparé to a two year contract with a club option for 2023.
“Adding a player of Jeremy’s quality really strengthens our squad as he brings valuable experience from his time in MLS and USL which will be vital in our push to build a title-winning team,” stated Matt Fegan, HFX Wanderers VP of Football Operations. “He knows the environment he is coming into having played for Ottawa Fury at Wanderers Grounds in 2019. The fact we can attract his level of talent due, in part, to our home stadium, is testament to the brilliant playing experience we’re creating with our fans in Halifax.”
The 25-year-old joins the Wanderers after successful career stops with the Montreal Impact and most recently with the Ottawa Fury and St. Louis FC. In addition to being known as a tenacious defensive midfielder, Gagnon-Lapare has played left back and centre forward at the professional and national team level. Adding a player of his pedigree gives the Wanderers yet another technically skilled player that will bring depth, flexibility and competition to the 2021 squad.
According to Gagnon-Laparé, the electric atmosphere he experienced at the Wanderers Grounds while a member of the Fury was key to his decision. “Having the chance to play against the Wanderers in Halifax, I liked the atmosphere so much that it left a pretty positive impact on me after that game. They were a team that wanted to play and they had great energy but also were being pushed by the fans. That’s something I wanted to experience myself so that was another important piece for me.”
Jeremy jumped on a phone call with Wanderers Brand Manager Dylan Lawrence to chat about his career so far and his decision to join Halifax.
Dylan Lawrence: Welcome to the Wanderers, Jeremy. Can you tell me about your football career so far?
JG: I grew up in a small town called Magog. I started playing at about six-years-old as most of us did. I realized pretty early that I would be able to make a career in football. Jump forward to when I was 19-years-old, I signed with the Montreal Impact and that was my first professional contract. I spent three seasons there and (eventually) needed a change from that. I signed with a fourth division club in France called AS Vitré. I spent two seasons there and I think that was really good for my career – it was a breath of fresh air. After that second season I wanted to move closer to home so I signed with Ottawa Fury. That’s when I had the chance to play against Halifax in the Canadian Championship.
What was it like playing against Halifax?
JG: Well, I was really surprised with Halifax as a team, honestly. When we played at the Wanderers Grounds the atmosphere was better than most games we had in the USL. So that was really cool – you could really tell there was some excitement about the team and the competition. The players wanted to compete and show (at the time) that their league was the better league. It was a great experience and I remember both games being really hard fought and we were really happy to make it through that round, I’ll tell you that.
Throughout the experience and now signing with the Wanderers, was there anything that really influenced your decision?
JG: Well first of all, I had a really great chat with Stephen Hart. Obviously I know him for his reputation as a former Men’s National Team Coach for Canada. So that was the first part; when I spoke with him and he made me feel that he wanted me to be a part of the team for the next season. That was really important for me that the coach and team has a project that they want me to be a part of. Stephen communicated that really well and then of course having the chance to play against the Wanderers in Halifax, I liked the atmosphere so much that it left a pretty positive impact on me after that game.
Having that experience actually playing against a team under Stephen Hart’s guidance, did the style of play attract you to join the Wanderers at all?
JG: I think there were a lot of players that changed between the team from 2019 and 2020, but you could already sense something that was being implemented by the team and the coach. They were a team that wanted to play and they had great energy but also were being pushed by the fans. That’s something I wanted to experience myself so that was another important piece for me.
You mentioned that you came back to play in Canada so you could be closer to home. Why was that an important piece for you?
JG: There was definitely a part of me that wanted to be closer to home because I have a close relationship with my family. Secondly I wanted to be closer to friends – I’m very close to guys I grew up playing with and I still have great relationships with them. Being away was hard, especially not being able to see those people on a regular basis. As you can imagine when you’re in a different continent it’s a bit more challenging.
Although not as close as Ottawa, how do you feel about making Halifax your new home?
JG: My first time (in Halifax) was when we played there (with Ottawa Fury) but I’m really looking forward to getting back there. I’ve had chats with a couple of players like Jems Geffrard and Alessandro Riggi that I know from Montreal and they both told me that the city was great. From hearing what they told me and the echoes I’ve got from other players, I’m looking forward to discovering the city and not just being there for one game. When you go to a city to play you’re kind of on a mission and there’s not much to consider outside of the game itself so it’s a bit harder to appreciate, even if there is some beauty in the city.
Going into this 2021 season, what do you hope to bring to the team dynamic?
JG: Well first of all I want to bring good vibes. From what I’ve heard the vibe in the team was very good last year and that’s something I wouldn’t want to disrupt. So I’m trying to come in with an open mind on how this team is being run – by the coach and by the players themselves. I really want to come with an open-minded attitude and make sure I fit in as best as I can. I want to bring the knowledge I have on the game and the way I know how to play it and I think that can reflect positively on the guys I play with. I like to be with a group that can compete and wants to compete and I like to play football. So I think it’s going to be a good match and I’m really excited now, especially with how the last season went. I’m ready for another challenge and I couldn’t be more excited to join the team and get to know the players, the coaches and the city.