OTTAWA, Ont.—Atlético Ottawa has revealed former Valencia and Toronto FC forward Miguel Ángel Ferrer Martínez—popularly known as Mista—as the squad’s inaugural head coach.
“I’m very excited to be back in the Atlético family, a club I know well and have fond memories of,” he said in a statement. “I’m honored to have been chosen to lead this project.”
Mista rose to prominence as a player for Valencia, where he played from 2001-2006, scoring 40 goals across 144 appearances. In 2006 he moved on to Atlético Madrid where he scored only three times in 35 appearances. His final season of play came in 2010 when he joined Toronto FC, his only goal coming in a friendly against the Bolton Wanderers. He had nine official appearances for Toronto before retiring the following year.
Mista’s familiarity with the Canadian soccer landscape, as well as his European pedigree, is certainly something the organization is banking on to give them a competitive edge. Furthermore, the team is owned by Spanish juggernaut Club Atlético de Madrid, who purchased them in late 2019.
“It’s instant credibility,” Jeff Hunt, strategic partner for Atlético Ottawa, said. “When you start a new expansion franchise in any league … you’re trying to create a brand from scratch. You’re really starting from ground zero and to be catapulted immediately to the top soccer brands in the world … we’re leveraging that enormous credibility that they have.”
Classical and ambitious meets historic and progressive. This is Atlético Ottawa // Le classique et l’ambitieux rencontrent l’historique et le progressif. C’est ça, l’Atlético Ottawa #Ottawa2CPL l #CanPL l @Atleti pic.twitter.com/Pbm2ANjueX— Atlético Ottawa (@Atleti_Ottawa) February 11, 2020
Hunt is part-owner of both the Ottawa Redblacks and the OHL’s Ottawa 67’s and was previously involved with the now-defunct soccer team Ottawa Fury FC. He is something of a local hero in Ottawa, as after the dissolution of the Fury he continued to press for the return of professional soccer to the nation’s capital. Now, he is confident the Spanish influence will provide a strong impetus for the team going forward.
“To be under the wing and the resources they have, we instantly have a scouting department of 80 people,” he said. “I could go on and on about the advantages and resources they have. It’s something I have never seen a precedent for. I don’t know of any other league where you had something like this happen.”
There has not yet been any word on potential players, but with the team’s Spanish bent, and a suggestion by Hunt himself that training camp might very well take place in Madrid, the organization may have more planned regarding European connections.
With the announcement, Atlético Ottawa is now the eighth team in the Canadian Premier League, alongside York9 FC (Toronto), Forge FC (Hamilton), HFX Wanderers (Halifax), Valour FC (Winnipeg), Cavalry FC (Calgary), FC Edmonton, and Pacific FC (Langford, B.C.). They will play at TD Place Stadium in Ottawa’s Lansdown Park, the former home of the Ottawa Fury.