“He has an edge to him, and we want guys with that edge.”

Valour FC ticked a lot of boxes for Shaan Hundal when it came to choosing his new home, including two of the most important:

Opportunity, for one. And feeling appreciated the other.

Hundal scribbled his name on a new multi-year contract with Winnipeg’s Canadian Premier League side this week, bringing the talented forward back to Manitoba after he made six appearances with the club during the 2020 Island Games tournament.

He arrives after scoring six goals with Vancouver FC in 2023 – including the first in franchise history – but with his frustrations with being switched to the wing boiling over during the summer and into the fall. Interestingly, all that unfolded while knowing Valour GM and head coach Phillip Dos Santos had been inquiring about Hundal dating to his days with Inter Miami FC II (2021-22) when he scored 17 goals in 48 matches.

“I wasn’t really happy (in Vancouver) and knowing that Phil had been interested in me before, it really helped this make sense,” said Hundal from his offseason base in Brampton, Ont. in a chat with “I’m really excited to work with Phil because we’ve been in touch over the past few years. It’s a no brainer to come back to work with a good coach and a roster that I think could do more than it did last season.

“I’m thrilled to come and play under him.”

Hundal’s scoring touch could be a big bonus for a Valour squad which struggled mightily to find the back of the net in 2023, finishing with a league-worst 25 goals in 28 matches. Five of his six goals came in Vancouver’s first nine games a year ago, but the arrival of Mexican striker Alejandro Diaz in July then meant a shift to the wing and while he was effective there, his scoring did dry up after that.

Asked if he wanted to speak about what happened in Vancouver or put it in the rear-view mirror, Hundal didn’t mince words.

“I’m pretty open about things. I always say what’s on my mind,” said the 24-year-old Brampton product. “Last season I had a good start and then while I felt I was effective in the last 10-12 games I didn’t really get my stats. I have been consistent the last two-three years with my scoring, so going 10 games without a goal was really frustrating.

“In Vancouver I was very unhappy and so it was a no brainer to get out of that situation. We had already decided in September that I wasn’t going to come back. The coach and I had a bit of a love-hate relationship.

“So, opportunity and being appreciated were the biggest things for me, along with Phil being so consistent in wanting me to come at times over the past few years. That’s why I keep saying this was a no brainer – I’m going somewhere I’m wanted; I’m going somewhere to work with a coach with a resumé like his who knows so much about the game.”

Dos Santos said Valour attempted to land Hundal last summer in a deal but could not come to an agreement with Vancouver. Now that he’ll be wearing Valour colours again, Dos Santos praised the approach his plays to the game and to playing up top.

“He has an edge to him,” Dos Santos said. “And we want guys with that edge.”

“I try to play with passion,” Hundal added. “That comes natural to me, especially when I’m playing against one of my old teams. I feel like I can bring a lot to the team up front as someone who is consistent, and it seemed like that was something Valour was missing.

“I know Phil has big plans for the changes he wants to make this season. It’s about time Valour makes the playoffs and takes a run to the cup. Hopefully we’ve got big changes for the club for next season.

“Every time you get a new opportunity it’s a chance to grow and move forward and excel in your career. I look at the people around me and the coaching staff at Valour and that’s really exciting.”