It was a goal celebration that will be remembered in Valour FC and Canadian Premier League history both for its uniqueness and for the overwhelming emotion of the moment.
Jose Galán’s marker in extra time in Valour FC’s 4-nil win over Atlético Ottawa Wednesday afternoon was a thing of beauty as the veteran midfielder took a nifty pass from Shaan Hundal before burying a shot into the far corner beyond the out-stretched hands of goalkeeper Nacho Zabal.
Galán then commemorated the moment with a salute to his wife Paloma and daughter Celia, born this May, by sucking his thumb and pantomiming cradling and rocking a baby.
“I have to admit, it has not been easy,” began Galán, when asked by valourfootball.club about life in the Island Games bubble in Charlottetown, PEI. “It’s difficult because of the circumstances with my daughter. I don’t know, sometimes it seems even worse when I see her on FaceTime because I would really like to carry her and stay with her.
“My wife is doing everything with her by herself because my family cannot travel and so she is alone. It’s difficult because I cannot help. That’s the toughest part.
“But all the guys, all the staff, have been of good spirit and the atmosphere is very good this year. This is our mission and after a win like on Wednesday, it makes it easier.”
The victory gives Valour FC a win and a loss in two matches and vaulted the squad back into the picture in the First Stage of the Island Games. Four of the eight teams will advance after the round-robin, which sees each team play each other, for seven matches.
Galán is primarily a defensive midfielder, and his goal Wednesday was not only his first as a member of Valour FC, but his first since 2015-16 when he was a member of FC Ceahlaul Piatra in Romania.
That alone made it memorable. But so, too, did Wednesday’s opponent – Atlético Ottawa is owned by Atlético Madrid, the very club the 34-year-old Spaniard began his career with back in 2005.
“We have a saying, like a rule, that you have to score against your ex-team,” said Galán with a chuckle. “To be honest, I wish them nothing but the best. I was not happy to score against them, but to score for Valour. There’s nothing personal. I have a lot of good memories from Atlético Madrid and I always say I am the player I am now because what they taught me in the past.
“But that goal… I got really, really emotional. I can admit I cried. Right when I scored I felt like my daughter gave me the power to score that goal because of the circumstances. The people who know me know this has not been easy because of something personal with my daughter and what my wife and I are going through with her.
“The club and my teammates know what I have sacrificed to be here. And then we lost the first game and I didn’t even play… you question yourself. You think, ‘I’m not taking care of my daughter when she needs me.’ But this is also my passion and football, like my family, is my life.
“So, when I scored… it’s something I can’t explain, but I felt something in that moment,” he added. “What was also emotional for me was the support of my teammates, because they know how important that goal was for me and for my baby.
“Those guys surrounding me, they’re good friends, and excellent people.”
The emotion of that moment also represented, in part, what the result meant to Galán and the rest of his teammates. This is a squad, after all, which has undergone a massive facelift since last season. And after Sunday’s 2-nil loss to Cavalry, some of the same criticisms that followed the franchise last year resurfaced.
“The squad needed that result,” said Galán. “When you lose that first game, everybody is not happy with that performance. But we know what we have. We know we have a good team this year, but you need results.
“We played a good, solid game and the result was totally fair. We needed it.”