Sander van Gessel Follows Former Coaches to Japan

January 17, 2011 - North American Soccer League (NASL) - FC Edmonton News Release

EDMONTON, AB. - FC Edmonton Midfielder Sander van Gessel has exercised an option in his contract which allows him to leave the club if a more lucrative offer came around. Thanks to a successful exhibition season with FC Edmonton, which saw the 34-year-old Dutchman play against the likes of Colo-Colo from Chile and Portsmouth from England, that offer has come from a team in Japan and van Gessel has decided to jump at the opportunity.

"Part of our mission as a club is to develop players and encourage them to further their professional careers," said General Manager Mel Kowalchuk. "Sander was one of our first signings. He came to Edmonton with an open mind and a willingness to help develop our younger players. He's done that and now he has an opportunity to sign a much bigger contract. We wish him all the best."

Van Gessel started his professional career in the 1995-96 season playing for FC Groningen in the Netherlands. He later played for SC Heerenveen, NAC Breda and Sparta Rotterdam before signing with FC Edmonton in 2010.

Assistant Coach Dave Randall has been with van Gessel since signing with the squad. Randall said he hopes the Dutchman's professionalism rubbed off on the younger FC Edmonton players.

"Sander has been a model professional since his arrival and a shining example to our young and local players," Randall said. "He was always one of the first at training and was very dedicated to his profession. We will miss his leadership but want to thank him for his contribution and wish him all the best."

Van Gessel can't say which club he will be signing with next but he did say leaving Edmonton and the team was a tough decision for him and his family to make.

"I like it here so it was tough deciding to leave but you have to consider what you have here and if it's worth changing everything to go over there," he said. "I'm 34-years-old so there aren't many opportunities like this coming my way so that's something I had to think about. I was really looking forward to staying here but the opportunity was just too good to pass up.

"It's hard to say goodbye," he added. "Everybody, and I really mean everybody, have all been so friendly and so helpful. We're really thankful for that and we're looking forward to coming back some day."

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