By Jon Hopkins
With Christmas on the horizon, it seems Atlético Ottawa was intent on giving an early gift to its fans. A primary recruitment target for 2024 for CCSG members on Hotstoves, in articles, on the ATO After the Whistle Podcast, and in many conversations across Ottawa, Matteo De Brienne is finally coming home!
The 21-year-old signed his first professional contract with ATO back in 2020, but, unfortunately, did not make any appearances for the club during the Island Games. In what would turn out to be a major misstep, ATO did not bring the youngster back for the following year, which left him to focus on developing elsewhere. And develop he did!
In the summer of 2021, he returned to his former Youth Club, Ottawa South United, for a few weeks before signing with FC Manitoba in USL 2 for 2021. While there, he would trial with Valour FC, which would turn out to be a key moment for his career. After the summer, he would go on to study and play for Carleton, scoring six goals in ten appearances and helping the Ravens capture the silver medal at the U-Sports men’s national tournament. He was named the OUA West Rookie of the Year, and also named to both the 2021 U-Sports All-Rookie Team and the national tournament all-star team. He was also a nominee for the U-Sports Lou Bilek Award for Rookie of the Year. Following his successful campaign with Carleton, Matteo would declare for the 2022 U-Sports Draft, withdrawing 5 days later when he was offered a 2-year contract from Valour FC. He would go on to play for them in both the 2022 and 2023 seasons, where he would continue to impress. He would go on to make 42 appearances for Valour, netting 6 goals, 3 assists, and the U-21 Player of the Year award for 2023, all the while leaving ATO fans lobbying for his return.
It seems all that lobbying has paid off, and De Brienne is again prepared to don the red and white. He will add some much-needed speed and creativity to Ottawa’s left side. While at Valour, Matteo showed his ability to adapt, shifting from his natural left winger role into a left back, giving returning Coach Carlos Gonzalez a plethora of options for the young man. He has also shown an affinity for acrobatics, flipping following goals and scoring one of the CPLs' best goals of 2022 on a volley. Needless to say, he will be seeing much more play this time around for ATO and will prove a vital part of our 2024 campaign. Welcome home Matteo!
Jon Hopkins is a fresh face on the pro-football fandom scene, being introduced it through Atlético Ottawa and the CPL. He grew up playing the beautiful game through his high school years in the Niagara Region. He has worked to support the growth of footie in Ottawa with CCSG since 2022 and now acts as the lead editor for the Writers at CCSG.