MSOC: Russian midfielder Anton Zadonsky to bring sublime skills to Timberwolves

Men's Soccer
April 25, 2023

He's a sublime talent with the ball at his feet, and he is ready to wear green and gold.

Today, the University of Northern British Columbia Men’s Soccer team made a big splash, officially announcing the commitment of Russian central midfielder Anton Zadonsky for the 2023 Canada West season, and beyond.

“It feels really good. I never thought I’d play university.  Everyone here is so friendly and the level is really, really good.”

Zadonsky was born in Saint Petersburg, Russia, and moved to British Columbia last year, where he started training with the Vancouver Whitecaps U19 program. The 18-year-old visited UNBC’s Prince George campus in March, giving him an opportunity to tour the academic facilities and Northern Sport Centre.

The highlight, of course, for a soccer junkie like Zadonsky, was the chance to train with the Timberwolves varsity roster under the watchful eye of U SPORTS Coach of the Year, Steve Simonson.

“I was in the gym in the morning. Then, the first technical practice, and then a team practice. It was really good. I feel so tired, but I really love this type of tired. So I am happy.”

Zadonsky is unassuming until he gets on the pitch. The six-foot-one midfielder comes alive when his boots touch the turf, utilizing his innate soccer IQ and smooth skills with the ball at his feet.

He fit right in when training with the Timberwolves varsity roster, but recognized there are real differences between the Norther American style of play, and the game he grew up playing for Avangard in Russia.

“I have played as a central midfielder all my life. I think it’s the best position for me because I like starting with the ball. I love seeing all the field and controlling the ball. The speed is really different. It is really fast football here, but in Russia, everything is so slow. It is way harder to play here, but I love it a lot.”

Simonson learned of Zadonsky in 2022, and invited him on a visit to get a better look at the potential recruit. The rest is history, as they say, as Zadonsky blew the UNBC bench boss away with his abilities on the pitch, and his seemingly endless potential to improve over a five year U SPORTS career.

“We are so happy to have Anton join us for the fall.  Off the field he is a shy and humble young man, yet his on-field confidence and ability is of a very high quality.  His experiences in Russia and with the Whitecaps organization will be a major asset and I think he could be a big part of what we are trying to build at UNBC. Today is a good day for our program.”

Zadonsky, who attended St. Petersburg High School No. 358 in Russia, will enroll in UNBC’s Global & International Studies program. He will join his new TWolves teammates for training camp in Prince George in July, and continue a soccer journey that started when he was a boy, 7126 kilometers from his new home at UNBC.

“I started playing football when I was four, and all my life I knew I would be a pro footballer. All my life. I don’t know how to do anything other than play soccer. I am just enjoying it. If you ask any teammates here, they will tell you the coach is really good. I love it a lot here. I love the teammates. Everything. Everything is so good.”