Soccer is in Adrian Cann’s blood.
It is not alone.
A native of the Toronto area of Thornhill, the Toronto FC defender is a fitting emissary of the world’s most diverse city.
MLSE senior writer Mike Ulmer caught up with the 29-year-old Cann at training to talk about how best to enjoy “this ride we call life.”
Mike Ulmer: You were born in Toronto but tell me about your family’s background.
Adrian Cann: My father was born in Kingston, Jamaica. His background is Scottish. My great grandfather, his name is McAllister and he went to Jamaica. My Pops came to Canada a while ago. It’s where he met my Mom. My mother is from Slovakia, Czechoslovakia at that time. My brother came and I popped out next.”
Mike Ulmer: Forget football. Tell me your Grandfather’s story.
Adrian Cann: To be honest, I’m not sure. He married his wife, who was Jamaican.
Mike Ulmer: I have never heard an accent like yours. Can you describe it?
Adrian Cann: A little coffee, a little milk. A little mix, a little Jamaican a little Slovak. On Mom’s side, my grandfather is Austrian….
Mike Ulmer: Of course…
Adrian Cann: My brother shows the Scottish side because he has red hair and blue eyes, light complexion, freckles. (He grins).
Mike Ulmer: Really?
Adrian Cann: Uh-huh.
Mike Ulmer: What was it about soccer?
Adrian Cann: I wanted to play ever since I was a little kid. I started playing ball with my Pops and my brother. My father Chesley was really into the football, he played it at school. We would play in the park. Ever since then it just caught on. I emulated Pele. I liked Maradona. I had a passion for it. We would play against the school kids with a little tennis ball. We would go crazy. It was St. Luke’s School on Dudley Avenue. We used to play every day, rain, snow, no matter what.
It’s always difficult growing up. Things did not come easy. My Mom would work a full time job. My Pops was carrying a full time job. It was always my brother and I growing up together by ourselves. My father was a denture therapist, my mother was an artist who did graphic design and painting.
Mike Ulmer: Tell me about your modeling career.
Adrian Cann: I was walking around downtown Toronto and this guy introduced himself. He was a modeling agent. He asked me if I wanted to try modeling.
He said I could come by the office, take a couple of Polaroids and we could take it from there. One day when I was bored, I went by. We took some Polaroids and we got a good reaction. We heard from bookers from New York who wanted to send me on castings. I said, ‘all right, let’s do this.’ I was 18 at the time. I was going to St. Robert’s Catholic High School. I was in OACs and I decided to drop out the second semester. I needed the time to do my own thing. I went to New York for a couple of months.
Mike Ulmer: Are male models like Derek Zoolander?
Adrian Cann (laughs): You get those dudes, they are so into themselves. You get some cool guys who don’t care about that. You just want to book a good campaign and make some good money.
Mike Ulmer: Are you still modeling?
Adrian Cann: I’m just concentrating on football. I just want to be happy. Happiness is key. Money isn’t everything. It just gives me more room to travel, explore the world, meet new people. I just want to enjoy this ride we call life.
Mike Ulmer: So the coast is pretty well clear for me to jump into the male modeling?
Adrian Cann: “Go ahead.”