Vaughan Azzurri and ex-Toronto FC Academy player Marcus Godinho has been signed to the U20 squad of Scottish professional club Heart of Midlothian.
Nineteen year old Godinho also plays with the Canada U20 side, and was a part of the team that went to England in Spring 2016 in a showcase camp and beat the home side 2-1 at St. George's Park.
Godinho first entered League1 in 2014 as a part of the Toronto FC Academy team that won the inaugural league title. He proceeded to feature in the club's USL level.
"In 2014, I made the senior TFCA team, which featured in the inaugural League1 season," he said. "Played just about every minute as a right back. Following the terrific season we had I went on trial with TFC II. I ended up playing a few games for them, before returning to League1."
Marcus Godinho, Vaughan 2016 (Photo: Martin Bazyl)
After several trials in Europe, Godinho came back to League1 Ontario in the current season, this time as a member of Vaughan Azzurri.
"In December I made the decision that I wanted to give it a try in Europe so I quit TFC II and looked around for a good agent to take me overseas," he explained. "In the meantime, I began to train with Vaughan to stay fit."
"The coaches, Carmine Isacco and Patrice Gheisar, were really helpful giving me a place to train just about everyday. I went on trial in and around the beginning of April. Barry MacLean set it up for me and the trial went very well. They told me before leaving that they were going to offer me a contract. Barry and Patrice were amazing and helped me get everything sorted out. When I came back I continued to train with Vaughan and decided to play a few matches with them in League1 up until my departure."
Marcus Godinho, TFCA 2014 (Photo: Martin Bazyl)
Godinho points to his experience as a teenager in League1 and the USL as pivotal in his development as a player.
"The leagues I have played in have been crucial to my development as a player," he said. "Playing in League1 at the young age of 16 was very tough."
"The league was very physical, as a lot of the players I was up against were men. It really helped me learn to cope with the physicality at the next level by forcing me to play a lot quicker. As the season went on it became easier and easier, as my speed of play began to increase. The high speed of a lot of the players in the league also helped me develop my defensive abilities. It really helped me improve my footwork when defending."
"Following League1, I played a few games in the USL, which was another great experience. Playing in this league allowed me to experience what it is like to play professionally. It helped me understand what I need to do off the field to be prepared because if you weren't prepared you were exposed on the field. Playing in a professional league really helped me understand the tactical portion of the game and made me think a lot more on the field. The high speed of play also helped with this and sharpened up my technique. The combination of these two leagues were crucial to getting me where I am today and will continue to be going into this next challenge."
Now stepping into a higher tier of play in the physical and tactically demanding Scottish league, Godinho said he was impressed with the approach at Hearts, and the support from staff and players alike.
"Upon coming over to Hearts I was very impressed with the organization," he commented. "During the trial I trained the full week with the first team and I was very impressed with them."
"They move the ball around very well, they are very patient and like to get forward. I felt like the style of play suited me well and I really enjoyed playing with them. The guys were very welcoming and the team almost felt like a family, which was also great. I was also really impressed with facility and staff. I feel like the combination of the two will help me develop into an even better player."