Tosaint Ricketts celebrates his stoppage-time equalizer vs. Ecuador.
Paul Giamou/

Canadian Exports: Tosaint Ricketts signs with Turkish club Boluspor ahead of tough World Cup qualifying stretch

Tosaint Ricketts is heading back to Turkey.

The Edmonton-born attacker, who turns 28 on Thursday, has signed a one-year deal with Boluspor, taking him back to the country where he had a productive 2013-14 campaign with Bucaspor.

“It feels good being back in Turkey; it’s a very easy transition for me,” Ricketts told by email on Tuesday. “I know the league and I have a name here. I just want to work hard and build on the success I've had here. Boluspor seems like the environment where I can achieve these goals.”

Ricketts spent last season in Israel with Hapoel Haifa, for whom he made 30 appearances. He only found the back of net once in league play, but there’s a very good reason for that — for the first time in his career, he was slotted in as a defender.

“The team was very unbalanced and I ended up having to play my first match at right back against the top side in Israel,” said Ricketts. “We won 2-0 and from that point on, the manager kept me there for the rest of the season.”

Ricketts says he left the club on good terms, and is thankful for the experience, which could potentially help his play at Boluspor and with the Canadian national team.

“I believe if needed I could play right back at any level,” he said. “It's very beneficial because it make me more versatile and able to play in multiple positions.”

Those defensive capabilities have allowed Ricketts to fit right into the structured system used by Canadian head coach Benito Floro. The Spaniard has regularly utilized the speedster on the right wing since taking over the Canada job in August 2013, and the confidence between player and manager is mutual.

“I have full faith that Benito will help us achieve things we have not achieved in the recent past,” Ricketts said. “Everyone has bought in to his philosophies and I’m very excited about what’s to come.”

What’s next is a home-and-home series against Belize, as Canada continues its long road to the 2018 World Cup. That road began with a 6-0 aggregate win over Dominica back in June, when Ricketts scored the ninth and 10th goals of his national-team career in a 4-0 win at Toronto’s BMO Field.

Les Rouges return to BMO on Sept. 4 for the opening leg against Belize, before playing the away leg on Sept. 8 and then – if all goes according to plan – resuming play in November in a semifinal group with Mexico, Honduras and either El Salvador or Curacao.

Despite a disappointing CONCACAF Gold Cup last month, in which Canada didn’t score through three games, Ricketts believes the work put in since Floro’s arrival in 2013 is about to begin bearing fruit.

“I feel very confident,” he said. “Every camp, we take steps in the right direction. We all feel it and can't deny it. World Cup qualifying has been our main focus from the first day Benito arrived. Now it's time to show what we have been working on for the past two years and make our country proud.”