In choosing Ben Fisk as its first player signing, Atletico Ottawa landed a Canadian international with experience both in Spain and the Canadian Premier League.
The 27-year-old winger from Vancouver speaks Spanish and knows the right things to say.
"I'm very honoured and very proud obviously to be announced as the first signing — and to represent our nation's capital," said Fisk, whose parents went to university in Ottawa.
Fisk spent last season on Vancouver Island with Pacific FC, scoring six goals and adding five assists in 24 Canadian Premier League games (including 19 starts). He played 1,662 minutes.
It seems an excellent fit for the expansion CPL side, whose parent club is Atletico Madrid.
"We are delighted to have secured Ben," Atletico Ottawa CEO Fernando Lopez said in a statement Wednesday. "Ben Fisk brings a wealth of talent and his experience playing in the CPL coupled with his international experience in Spain aligns with the values of the Atletico de Madrid's brand and he will be a valuable asset of talent and experience, as well as be a leader on and off the pitch."
Fisk won two caps for Canada in 2017, starting against Bermuda and coming in off the bench against Scotland.
He can play on either wing or as an attacking midfielder through the middle.
"I like to be on the ball and love scoring goals, but equally love setting up my teammates and being a part of the team," he said in an interview. "Anything I can do to help the team win is what I want to be doing."
After spending time with the Vancouver Whitecaps under-23 side, Fisk went to Spain in search of a new soccer home.
With the transfer window closed, he spent a month training with Deportivo La Coruna and a month with Villarreal. Deportivo recommended him to some local teams and he joined Coruxo FC in the Spanish third tier.
He had a good season and returned to Deportivo in 2015, the following year. He played for their B team, often training with the first squad.
"I spent just under three years in Spain. I love my time there," he said, "Some of my nicest memories of my adult life were spent there ... Living in Spain I know what Atletico Madrid represents. I know what they're going to bring to the CPL and now being involved with them firsthand is pretty special."
Fisk joined FC Edmonton in 2016, moving to Ireland in 2018 to pay for Derry City FC, competing in Europa League qualifying matches and winning the League of Ireland Cup.
"That was very special for me," he said of his time in Ireland.
Fisk has nothing but good things to say about Pacific FC, saying he fell in love with Vancouver Island.
Expansion Ottawa will open the pre-season March 11 in Spain at the training complex of parent club Atletico Madrid.
The club is slated to return to Ottawa on April 7 to continue preparations for its league debut April 18 against champion Forge FC in Hamilton. Ottawa's home opener is May 16 against HFX Wanderers FC at TD Place Stadium.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2020.
Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press