GRANT NEEDHAM: Impact Builder

It’s a huge honour for me. I am being recognized for the efforts that I put in the game from 1993 to 1998. All the years I played, I gave body and soul on the field. I always did the best I could. To play in Montreal, my hometown, has been awesome. I had the opportunity to play here with a first-rate organization. Everything was great in Montreal.

What are your greatest career memories?

I think that being selected to the first All-Star Team in 1995 was something special. Back then, there was no Major League Soccer and the best North American players were evolving in the league. So being honoured with these players was something great. Also, I still remember the first day that I put the Impact jersey on for my first game (June 18, 1993, in Fort Lauderdale).

What do you miss the most since you retired from the game?

I think it’s the comradeship with the teammates and the nervousness before the games. Basically, I think that I miss the locker room. It’s something very special when a team focuses on the same goals. So I’m happy to still be involved with the radio game broadcast (CJAD 800) and to keep in touch with the club. But I have to say I don’t miss the day-to-day routine and training that much (laughs).

Are there any anecdotes that you remember?

Yes, I have lots of anecdotes with the team. I have funny stories that I can’t tell (laughs). I remember playing cards with players Rudy Doliscat, Patrick Diotte, Paolo Ceccarelli on the team bus or eating fried chicken with the team manager Mike Moretto. I also remember when I left the Toronto Blizzard to play here. It was great to be back but I didn’t know what to expect from this new team. I think that the involvement of the Saputo group was the best thing that could have happened to this club.

How would you describe your career in one word and why?

Memorable! I lived so many things with this team that I will remember for the rest of my life. Yes, there were ups and downs, but I have no regrets at all. I loved every second of my career. When I was healthy, I lived great moments with very good players. I had tougher moments when I was injured. I had knee problems and concussions, but I think that it made me stronger. I was able to come back to play after some people had said that I was not going to be back. So I think that I turned out negative things into positive ones.

Who would you like to thank for all the great seasons you spent with the Impact?

First of all, I would like to thank Impact president Joey Saputo for giving me the opportunity to play here and to still be involved in the club with the radio. All my coaches, especially Valerio Gazzola. Mike Moretto, for taking care of me. He was like a second father for all the players. My teammates, because I had a blast playing with them. Also, the training staff that made sure I was fit to play. And the fans because even if there were not as many people as today back then, the players’ friends and families were always in the stands.

If we asked your former teammates to describe you, what would they say?

They would say that I was a team guy, who gave always 100% on the field, but who also loved to joke around and have fun. They would also probably say that I was a good professional who was always there with the pride to excel. I have always been very proud of my team and now more than ever.

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