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Teenager Luc de Fougerolles impressing at Canada camp ahead of Japan friendly

It’s been quite a week for Luc de Fougerolles, and it’s not over yet.

The London-born defender, who qualifies for Canada through his Canadian-born father, turned 18 in Japan where he is wearing Canadian colors for the first time. De Fougerolles and the 44th-ranked Canadians take on No. 19 Japan on Friday in Niigata in an international friendly.

Interim Canada coach Mauro Biello is no stranger to the Fulham teenager, having called him up twice earlier this year to the Canadian under-20 team. But first COVID and then exams got in the way.

This time, there were no obstacles.

“Finally. It’s been a long time coming,” de Fougerolles said. “But I’m happy to be with the national team.”

It’s been quite a journey with the call-up to the senior side somewhat unexpected, despite regular contact with Biello.

De Fougerolles’ father Jean is originally from Montreal but settled in England after coming to London to study.

A young Luc was spotted by both Fulham and Chelsea. After spending time at Fulham at the age of six, he had a tryout at Chelsea before returning to Fulham and joining the Cottagers’ under-eight team.

“I’ve been there my whole life basically, knowing the people there [and] loving it” de Fougerolles said of Fulham, whose Craven Cottage home sits on the bank of the Thames.

While a Fulham fan growing up, he liked to watch former Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta.

Today, he is a regular starter in Premier League 2, which is made up of Premier League under-21 teams. And he saw first-team action for the Premier League team during its pre-season U.S. tour this summer versus Chelsea and Aston Villa.

“A very good step-up. Playing some men’s football which is obviously very good for me,” said de Fougerolles, who has also trained with the first team.

De Fougerolles, who has visited family in Canada several times, has already impressed Biello.

“He’s done really well,” Biello said Thursday from Japan. “A young kid, he’s blended in. He’s brave on the ball, really confident. He’s fearless defensively. It’s really good to get him into the environment. He fit right in.”

De Fougerolles, who signed his first pro contract in April, plays both centre back and right back and is comfortable on the ball.

“I like to have the ball at my feet and I like to play out,” he said.

Canada sat out the FIFA September international window, with Canada Soccer pointing to “financial constraints” and its “inability to confirm an additional high-quality opponent.”

So the game versus Japan serves as the Canadian men’s team’s one warm-up ahead of a pair of crucial November CONCACAF Nations League matches that serve as Copa America qualifiers.

Japan, the top-ranked team in Asia, is coming off September victories over No. 15 Germany (4-2) and No. 42 Turkey (4-1). And it plays No. 29 Tunisia in Kobe four days after the Canada game as it gears up for the start of its 2026 World Cup qualification campaign in November and the Asian Cup in January.

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