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Congratulations To Captain Carl Haworth On 150 Career Matches With Fury FC

By Ottawa Fury FC and Carlos Verde, 08/14/19, 8:45PM EDT

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With his start tonight against Toronto FC in the Canadian Championship your Captain Carl Haworth now has played in 150 career matches with Fury FC.

Earlier this season we caught up with Carl to reflect on his career with Ottawa so far. 

Carl Haworth had a decision to make.

It was the 2012-13 off-season, and the Barrie, Ont. native was coming off a disappointing first year out of Niagara University. Unsigned after two trials — one with Montreal, which selected him in the MLS Supplemental Draft, the other with USL’s Harrisburg — he’d returned to Forest City London in the PDL.

“I was at a fork in the road, like ‘do I keep trying to pursue this’,” remembers Haworth. “I was contacted by (Fury’s) Stephen O’Kane and Marc Lapointe, I’d played against them in my time with FC London, and they were monitoring my progress.

“They must’ve called me, between the two of them, three times a week for a month straight.”

Ultimately, Haworth decided to join Fury — then of the PDL — and give it one more kick at the can.

He dominated, averaging a goal- and assist-per-game, but more importantly caught the eye of one Marc Dos Santos; the young Luso-Canadian manager was in the process of building Fury FC’s first-ever pro squad for the club’s NASL debut the following year.

“He was present at a lot of practices, (and) he got to see how we’d not just play, but what we brought every day in training,” reflects Haworth. “He liked me from the very start, we had some good conversations and as soon as PDL wrapped up, he offered me a pro contract.”

A rookie at the pro level but far from a youth prospect in his age-25 year, Haworth was initially slated to be a depth player.

Photo: Steve Kingman | Freestyle Ottawa

“Marc was very honest at the start, and said ‘we’re going to carry 22 to 24 guys, and you’re fringe 18’, (and) that some days I’d be out of the squad, some weeks I’d travel,” smiles Haworth. “I took that as a challenge.”

His tenacity and hunger to learn quickly caught the attention of the staff; his quality forced them to re-evaluate his role.

By the time Fury FC took the pitch on April 12, 2014 for its NASL debut in Ft. Lauderdale, Haworth was in the team’s XI.

Photo: Steve Kingman | Freestyle Ottawa

Five-plus years later, it’s a different Carl Haworth that sits outside Whole Foods, sipping an americano and sharing a laugh over names from the club’s not-that-distant past.

At age 30, he’s the only remaining player from that 2014 team by a fair distance. The Fury captain has nearly 150 appearances to his name, and his mindset has shifted to one of leading and building a legacy in the nation’s capital.

“I got to learn from the leaders that represented this club when I was a first-, second-year pro (and) see how they conducted themselves on and off the field,” says Haworth. “It’s been a big learning experience — I’ve changed a lot as a person over the years — and I know how important it can be to have a leader.”

Photo: Carlos Verde

The club’s first few squads, constructed by Dos Santos with an eye to veterans, gave Haworth some natural mentors.

“With the team he assembled, (there was) so much experience in the league, with guys that had won USL championships (and) internationals,” reflects Haworth. “Richie Ryan, Sinisa Ubiparipovic, the list goes on and on. I learned a lot from those guys about what it meant to be a professional.”

At age 30 and in his sixth pro season, Haworth is the last remaining link to those heady early days under Dos Santos.

Current head coach Nikola Popovic — an assistant on Dos Santos’ Swope Park staff in 2016 — speaks highly of the man he anointed with the armband.

“As a captain you are the person who carries the flag, (and) our flag is heavy,” explains the Serbian-born bench boss. “Since I came here, I’ve been trying to establish a strong, aggressive culture: Carl’s the symbol of that.”

Photo: Matt Zambonin | Freestyle Ottawa

Popovic challenged his captain with a position shift, moving the tireless runner from an attacking wide role to a traditional fullback role.

“He’s been fantastic with the change of position on the field, it suits him better than being only a winger,” says the head coach. “He can be a very good fullback, a fullback who can, for me, play in the Canadian national team.

“Outside the field, he carries our flag well and carries the core values of our club culture in the community.”

Professional footballers don’t typically stay at one club for five-plus years.

But in Haworth’s case, the city of Ottawa made the decision easy for him.

“Coming from Barrie, a smaller place where the outdoors is very important, you get a lot of that here in Ottawa (and) don’t have to go far to get it,” explains the 5-foot-8 veteran, whose gameday routine includes a dog walk and light bike ride. “You can bike along the (Rideau) Canal, end up at the Arboretum or Dow’s Lake and feel like you’re in a national park.

“With neighbourhoods like the ByWard Market, Lansdowne (and) Hintonburg, there’s shops, cafés, and I just sit out there and read a book.” he continues. “There’s the bars, the nightlife if you’re into that (and) all the festivals going on — there’s always something.”

The Fury FC veteran understands that hitting 30 means the beginning of the end for many professional players.

Regardless of what the science and history says, however, he has designs on playing for much longer.

“I started my pro career later than a lot of guys do, so maybe don’t have as much mileage on the body,” he says while draining the last of his americano. “I take care of my body in the off-season, do a lot of yoga (and) live a healthy lifestyle — I’d like to play into my late-30s.”

When the time does come for Carl Haworth to hang up his boots, two things will be certain.

For one, he will go down as Fury’s longest-tenured player; for another, he will stay in the beautiful game.

“It’s all I know at this point,” he smiles. “It’s been soccer since I was three, four years old. Everything I did was to get me to this stage.”

While his path to professional football may have been untraditional, with bumps and lessons along the way, Haworth has ground out a career in the capital and gone on to become a club icon.

CARL HAWORTH TRIVIA

 Favourite Past Fury Teammate: I’ve got to give Drew Beckie a shoutout, he’s been one of my best friends ever since Fury. We played with each other before Fury days, too.

 Favourite Current Fury Teammate: Callum Irving, we have a lot of the same interests.

 Favourite Fury Memory: Scoring the first-ever Fury FC goal at TD Place, against Ft. Lauderdale in 2014.

 Gameday Routine: Get up, make breakfast. go for a little bike ride, nothing too strenuous, come home, nap, get up, walk the dog, come home and cook — normally chicken breast sweet potatoes and greens of some capacity.