Patrice Bernier and his career in pictures
It started when he was four. Playing with friends at the park, pretending to be the greats he saw on TV; Romario, Baggio, Ronaldo, to name a few he named himself. It was only natural for people to tell him that his burning desire to be a professional soccer player, a dream that started when he was just four years old, was impossible.
They were right of course; breaking into the big European soccer leagues as an aspiring Canadian soccer player was extremely difficult. Players from Canada lacked the opportunities that many young players in Europe enjoy from a very young age. Looking back now, it speaks volumes to Patrice’s character and skill to achieve what he did.
It all began in 2000 when he decided to sign his first professional contract with the Bleu-blanc-noir. Bernier was coming back from two years of college-level soccer at Syracuse University in New York, and was eager for a chance to join a pro team. In the A-League, Bernier was already showing signs of his leadership and class. His way of doing things, his preparation, stayed with him as he aged.
And that’s when he left us for the first time…
It was inevitable of course. He had the skill, but more importantly the character, to have a distinguished career in Europe, to pave the way for any other young boy or girl from Quebec to even consider dreaming of such a thing. 15 years later, he can proudly say that it’s exactly what he did.
Bernier went on to play in Norway, Denmark, and Germany over the course of the next decade, featuring in competitions like the UEFA Cup (now the Europa League), and playing with distinguished clubs like FC Nordsjaelland, in Denmark, and Tromso, in Norway.
Then, in 2012, we got him back.
It was fitting that Patrice came back when the Impact made its debut in North America’s top league. Who could possibly be as invested as him? Not many, and he showed his determination by leading the team that season with nine goals. Two years later, of course, he would be named captain, and would eventually lead the team to a CONCACAF Champions League Final and to an Eastern Conference final against Toronto FC.
It is therefore fitting that Patrice ends his career here on Sunday, with the Montreal Impact family, exactly where his journey began 17 years ago. And what a journey it’s been.