Former Montrealer turned professional soccer player Noah Eisenberg has moved on to a new stage of his career. After several stints in Belgium, Northern Ireland, and Wales, the 23-year-old has made it to the first division in Gibraltar, signing for Europa Point FC, who finished 10th in the Gibraltar League 2020-2021 season.
The new season starts on Oct. 17. Eisenberg will be playing for both the Europa Point FC, which competes in the Premier Division of the Gibraltar League, and the U-23 youth team which acts as a feeder for the first team’s roster.
Because the Gibraltar league rules demand that at least five Gibraltar-born players be on the field at any given moment, playing time is limited for international players like Eisenberg.
“[The club] has registered [international players] under 23 in both the U-23 and first team, [so that] we get the minutes to play [for the club],” Eisenberg said in an interview with The McGill Tribune.
Littered with obstacles created due to the pandemic, such as immigration restrictions and the protection of local leagues from an influx of international players, Eisenberg’s soccer journey in Europe has not been an easy one. The Montrealer considers the Welsh league’s move to reduce the number of international players to be an important factor in his move to Gibraltar.
“I left Wales. There was no choice after Brexit [since immigration to Wales] became stricter with COVID-19,” Eisenberg said. “Between [Brexit and COVID-19] it was impossible to get a visa to play in Wales [….] [There is a push] to make the Wales league only for British players.”
Fortunately, with the help of friends and his agent, Eisenberg’s transition to Europa Point FC was a smooth one.
“I had a friend playing in Gibraltar who put me in touch with the owner [of Europa Point FC],” Eisenberg said. “In August [of 2021], the owner offered me a contract [for the new season]. I have an agent and we work together and when an opportunity comes, he negotiates [the contract] and finalizes the deal with the club.”
Playing in the first division in the Gibraltar league could give Eisenberg the unique opportunity to play in the Champions League, the Europa League, and the UEFA Conference League.
“The first placed team [in the Gibraltar league] will qualify for the [preliminary rounds] of the Champions League. The second, third, and fourth will go to the Europa League,” Eisenberg explained. “Lincoln Red Imps [from the Gibraltar League] is currently competing in the UEFA Conference League. [The team] played against PAOK [from the Greek first division] last week, which is one of the best teams in the world.”
Although Eisenberg faces exciting challenges ahead of him in Europe, he hopes to return to North America to play soccer in the future. The newly formed Canadian Premier League is another option Eisenberg is open to exploring.
“I have a list of goals for the near future. CF Montreal is definitely on my bucket list,” Eisenberg said. “Montreal would definitely be a place I would like to play in front of friends and family.”
Eisenberg acknowledged that luck played a big role in a lot of opportunities he was afforded. For Montrealers who aspire to play pro soccer in Europe or North America, he advises hard work and dedication.
“Being good enough is not always enough,” said Eisenberg. “[You have got to be] at the right place at the right time [to] be as ready as you can for when that opportunity comes.”