Class of 2009: Neil Ellett

Neil Ellett was a credit to his country. A steady defender that played in the late 1960s and early 1970s, he wore Canada’s colours seven times at the “A” level plus an additional 12 times at the amateur/Olympic level.



“I guess I was the type of (player) that you didn’t recognize too much,” says Neil Ellett. “In the most cases I was a defender, either in the back, or Frank (coach Pike) quite often had me as a front sweeper. So I was more of a destroyer than a creator.”

Listen to Neil Ellett



Neil Ellett was a credit to his country. A steady defender that played in the late 1960s and early 1970s, he wore Canada’s colours seven times at the “A” level plus an additional 12 times at the amateur/Olympic level.



“I guess I was the type of (player) that you didn’t recognize too much,” says Neil Ellett. “In the most cases I was a defender, either in the back, or Frank (coach Pike) quite often had me as a front sweeper. So I was more of a destroyer than a creator.”



Ellett grew up on the west coast and played club soccer for North Shore United. In 1966, he helped British Columbia win the Challenge Trophy, the only year provinces rather than clubs played for Canada’s annual men’s championship. He then played for Vancouver Eintracht and Vancouver Croatia before eventually signing as an original member of the North American Soccer League’s Vancouver Whitecaps.



“It was a big rivalry back then: Croatia against Columbus,” says Ellett. “It was (played at) the old Callister Park, which a lot of older folks would know about. It was a great atmosphere there with four or five thousand people, in a nice little compact stadium.”



For country, Ellett took part in two Pan American Games, first in Canada at Winnipeg 1967 (Canada finished fourth) and then four years later in Colombia at Cali 1971. In Columbia, Canada pulled off a memorable 3:2 victory over the host nation.



“It was a great experience in front their 50,000 fans that hated us,” says Ellett.



He also played in one Olympic Qualification match, a 1:0 victory over Mexico at Empire Stadium in Vancouver. Ellett scored the lone goal with a header in what was Canada’s first-ever victory over Mexico.



One year later, he was playing for Canada’s “A” team in FIFA World Cup™ Qualifiers. Canada finished second in its group behind Mexico and did not advance to the final group stage. The highlight, however, was a 3:2 victory over USA in front of a home crowd in St. John’s, NL.



“It was fantastic,” says Ellett. “I think it was 7,500 or 8,000 just rabid fans. It was a great atmosphere and it was probably good for both of us.”



Thirty-seven years later, the credit has been returned to Mr. Ellett as he takes his place amongst Canada’s legends. He is a distinguished member of The Soccer Hall of Fame.

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