After more than 17 years as a professional footballer in England for the likes of Newcastle, Sunderland, Burnley, Wigan and Birmingham, former Scotland international Steven Caldwell upped sticks and moved across the pond to the MLS, spending two seasons as Captain of Toronto FC. He made an instant impression as a leader on and off the pitch and will be remembered for his charisma and passion.
But what has Stevie been up too since his retirement you ask? Is he still living the life in Toronto?
It was to our absolute delight that Steven agreed to be the first to partake in our new Q&A feature. Here he divulges into an entertaining edition of Q&A’s, sharing some of his most vivid memories from his time as a footballer, including a glorious day at Wembley, his experiences of leaving home for a foreign country and his favourite hang out’s in Toronto!
Well, without further ado, here we go with some Q&A’s…
1.Did you have a particular coach/player/role model that you looked up to and that helped shape your career?
I had so many! Coaches that stick out are Tommy Craig and Alan Irvine, both youth coaches at Newcastle. Two Scots whose values and ideas I have kept with me throughout my career. At a senior level I’d say Walter Smith, my national team coach and Chris Hughton, my coach at Birmingham. I have immense respect for them both.
2.What made you decide you wanted to play professional football and what was it actually like to be out on the pitch?
I can’t remember that being a conscious decision. It was just a way of life for me from an early age. I loved the game and I always knew I would play professional. Standing in that tunnel waiting to take the field with apprehension and excitement and adrenaline and anticipation, all conflicting feelings and emotions, was what I thrived on. It’s the biggest thing I miss. I’m not sure I’ll ever fully get over it.
3.What is your greatest footballing memory/achievement?
Winning the playoff final at Wembley with Burnley. Climbing the steps as Captain to lift the trophy. With a club that nobody thought would ever to get back to the elite level of the English game. Unforgettable!
Captain Caldwell: Lifting the Championship Play-off final winners trophy in 09-10 season enroute to the Premier League.
4.What do you do with your time now that you have hung up your boots?
I work for MLSE in a variety of different roles and responsibilities. I’m always lucky enough to be an analyst for TSN covering the EPL and European competitions.
5.Where will you be watching the Euros this Summer and who do you think will win it?
I’m actually hoping to be working a lot for TSN! I think France will win but it’ll be a very open competition in my opinion.
6.What were your initial thoughts when moving to Canada? Had you ever been before and what did you know about Toronto?
My initial thoughts have never changed! It’s a fabulous country that I’m privileged to live in, Toronto itself is a fantastic city! Better in the summer than the winter of course!! I’d heard good things about it but I have to say, it’s even better to live here.
Toronto: A fantastic city!
7.What do you enjoy most about living in Toronto and what would you suggest to others who are thinking about making the move?
I enjoy the restaurants and bars of course. The island is amazing but n the summer. I love the contrasting areas and attractions and of course there are a number of amazing parks to have fun in. It’s extremely safe and it’s a place with great people of varying cultures.
8.What one thing do you miss the most from home?
I miss certain foods and family of course! If anybody knows what I’m talking about, here goes… A roll and square sausage, a fish supper, Monster Munch crisps, Irn Bru and a pie and beans from Greggs, in no particular order!
Irn Bru: “Scotland’s other national drink”.
9.What do you find the biggest difference is living here versus the UK?
The pace of live, the weather and the sporting diversity and opportunities for kids.
10.Do you have a hidden gem in Toronto that you want to share?
I’m not sure I’ll be unearthing any great secrets here! I love a smoked salmon bagel from Shmaltz at Bathurst and DuPont. My friend, Tony, has an incredible restaurant on the Danforth called Mezes. Check it out! Last but not least, Il Gatto Nero on College has amazing Italian cuisine.
11.How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country and how was it moving the family over?
It really wasn’t that difficult because of the amazing people who helped with the transition. I have to say a huge thank you to Toronto FC who made everything so smooth and comfortable. When my family arrived we settled in a fantastic area in Governors Bridge and my boys attend a great public school called Bennington Heights. We are very settled here.
12.What are the best things to do in the city; anything to recommend to future expats?
The summer is electric and there is something special on every weekend! I love watching a movie outdoors in one of the parks. Taste of the Danforth is amazing! The Beach on a gorgeous summer Sunday, watching everyone playing volleyball and then taking a stroll along the boardwalk. My favourite city in the world without any shadow of a doubt!