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Jonathan David is the symbol of the new North American generation

The journey that took the Lille striker from Canada to the top in Ligue 1

Jonathan David is the symbol of the new North American generation The journey that took the Lille striker from Canada to the top in Ligue 1

"I need to play and grow. I know that before my signing with Lille great teams looked for me, but I think it is better to continue to grow by playing and managing pressure in a healthy way".

Calm, quiet and professional: this is Jonathan David Jr's approach to football and life, a striker who started from Canada and has arrived at Lille OSC, first in the standings in Ligue 1. His story is a journey that started in Brooklyn, passing by Haiti - the birthplace of his parents - and Ottawa, and now in France. Together with his international teammate Alphonso Davies, as well as other talents such as Dest, Pulisic, McKennie and Reyna, David represents a new type of footballer who is finally changing how fans look at soccer across the ocean thanks to remarkable sporting achievements and a different approach to being a football player. In the US, the American Messi or Ronaldo has been sought for years, crushing talents with pressure and expectations both on and off the pitch. Today the new generation has a greater awareness of the sacrifices of the profession and that talent alone is not enough to be a successful footballer and a happy man.

This attitude is also reflected in Jonathan's aesthetics, captured by Camille Lepen's shots on the Lille boulevards.

Getting to know David - class of 2000 - is not easy and for this reason his nickname is Iceman - coined by Jess Thorup, his coach in the last two seasons at Gent in Belgium. At 21, David is the highest paid Canadian footballer in history, he was one of the finalist of the 2020 Golden Boy award and he's already being a top scorer in a European championship, after deciding to take his chances in Europe rather than MLS: "It’s not that I snubbed American football. In my vision - and in that of my coach - I was training to be ready for Europe. The goal has always been European football". adidas has decided to bet on him - by extending his sponsorship contract, this time to 7 figures - making him rightfully among the brand's top athletes.

Together with Alphonso Davies he represents the future of Canadian football and one of the faces of a next generation of talents who cyclically arrive in Europe from North America with great hopes and expectations. In this new wave, USA and Canada have produced talents such as Dest (2000, Barcelona), Reynolds (2001, AS Roma), McKennie (1998, Juventus), Reyna (2002, Borussia Dortmund), Pulisic (1998, Chelsea), Adams (1999, Leipzig) and Weah (2000, Lille).

David's overseas journey started at Gent and continues today at Lille, the same club where Ribery grew up and where talents such as Hazard, Digne and Cabaye made their debut.

"Moving to Ligue 1 helped me develop for sure. It just helps me work on other aspects of my game and be a better all-around striker. Sometimes it’s tighter spaces so your control has to be better, you need to be technically on point. You know you don’t have a lot of time, so it just helps you think faster and just be sharper and ready for anything really". 

Even off the pitch Jonathan David is Iceman. Unlike Alphonso Davies - the perfect icon of what it means to be an extroverted footballer - the Lille's striker manages emotions in his own way and lets few people into his personal zone.

"When you’re younger, you don’t think too much, you just go play. Now, obviously there’s more pressure. From fans or from within the team or from yourself — you set goals and have ambitions, and you go out there every game to win. So there’s pressure, but I think it’s normal" JD9 said. Pressure that comes from several fronts: the most important teams in Europe (including AC Milan and Inter) are monitoring him, brands begin to invest in him and the national team - with whom he played 12 games scoring 11 goals - is counting on him. But David adds that the pressure "you have to control it and become aware of the fact that you have to play with joy. My favorite player is Ronaldinho, because he transmitted joy every time he touched the ball, he liked to do what he was doing. I try to handle pressure the same way".

Fly Nowhere, a New York agency that among many football-cultur projects manages the art direction of Venezia FC, has also bet on him and is the first player to join the team of the agency. Winning a bet, in Jonathan David's idea, is not that difficult. Just remember Iceman's 3 laws: "Feet on the ground, disciplines and priorities".