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Gheisar smiling

Title-winning coach Patrice Gheisar steps up to CPL

By League1 Ontario staff, 11/30/22, 10:59AM EST


Vaughan Azzurri’s Gheisar has joined HFX Wanderers, following the footsteps of former L1O coaches Jim Brennan and Bobby Smyrniotis in moving to the Canadian Premier League.

Gheisar with his Vaughan Azzurri players

Patrice Gheisar has been appointed as the new head coach of HFX Wanderers in the Canadian Premier League after several successful years at Vaughan Azzurri in League1 Ontario.

The experienced coach is a back-to-back winner of the Men’s Premier Division Coach of the Year – voted the best in the East Conference in 2021, and widely praised this season after expertly guiding the Azzurri to the league title.

In switching, Gheisar is reinforcing the tangible pathway for touchline staff to the professional game. He joins Bobby Smyrniotis – the most successful coach in the CPL’s short history – and Jim Brennan in stepping up from L1O to a head coach role in Canada’s top division.

Three Premier Division trophies

Gheisar was an assistant coach to the Vaughan Azzurri side that won the Men’s Premier Division and L1 Cup in 2016, working under Carmine Isacco. Together, they guided Azzurri to their second league and cup double two years later.

Isacco was the person who brought Gheisar on board at Vaughan Soccer Club more than a decade ago, and in that time Gheisar won several Ontario Cups with the club’s U21 side.

Fast forward to the present and his Men’s Premier Division team have not lost a regular-season game since 2019.

They topped the East Conference in last year’s Premier Division only to suffer defeat in the postseason, before coming back even stronger this campaign and going unbeaten all the way to the reclaim the trophy.

Vaughan Azzurri became the first team to win three Men’s Premier Divisions – and Gheisar had a huge part to play in each of the successes.

Gheisar recieves Men's Premier Division title-winning honours from League1 Canada president Dino Rossi.

Gheisar receives Men's Premier Division title-winning honours from League1 Canada president Dino Rossi.

History with HFX

It’s not the first time HFX Wanderers fans have been introduced to Gheisar. Some would have seen his Azzurri side defeat the Wanderers 1-0 on home soil in the second leg of their Canadian Championship meeting in 2019.

The victory on the day wasn’t enough to secure a passage to the next round as HFX Wanderers went through on away goals – the CPL side’s 3-2 victory at Ontario Soccer Centre making the important difference.

HFX Wanderers finished seventh in last year’s eight-team CPL season, winning eight games from a total of 28. They parted ways in October with Stephen Hart – their inaugural head coach, who was appointed in 2018 – with Gheisar now taking the reins.

“He will always be a part of the family”

Vaughan Soccer Club president Tony Bartolomeo was full of praise for Gheisar, who is flying the flag for semi-pro coaches aspiring to reach the professional level.

“This is super amazing,” he said. “Players from L1O have had many successes, and it shows coaches can aim for that as well. I'm confident that he'll be successful and will bring more eyes from the professional game to L1O coaches.

“From the club perspective it's bittersweet. We are really excited for him and it’s great to see one of our coaches as well as our players getting promoted to the professional level, and it's also an emotional time for the club.

“To me he is a friend and he's the fabric of Vaughan Soccer Club; he will always be a part of the family. He involved himself with the fans, the parents; he embraced Vaughan Soccer Club and we embraced him as well.

“They [HFX Wanderers] have an excellent coach, an excellent mentor. He’s a teacher, he’s a do-er, and they couldn’t have selected anyone better.

“It's not a goodbye as we are going to continue working with him, looking to him for inspiration. His legacy at Vaughan will be that he's a winner – in all facets of the game.”

Gheisar celebrates with fans