You can love the game with all your heart, but sometimes the game doesn’t always love you back. Surely at times throughout his career, Andreas Vaikla has felt that way.
The 25-year-old may be starting to enter the prime of his career, but in many respects — he’s restarting his career. While he’s dove around the pitch making many incredible saves for FC Edmonton this season, it was only two years ago that the Eddies goalkeeper was forced to question whether or not he could even continue to play the game he’s loved virtually his whole life.

After having surgery to repair a severe hip injury, the doctor’s told him he should consider retirement, but he wasn’t ready to give up just yet. Now, Vaikla is playing his first professional season since the devastating injury — and he’s making the most out of it.

“There were moments when I started to think about other careers,” said Vaikla, who leads the Canadian Premier League in saves with 33. “There were many days where my hip was in so much pain, I couldn’t even walk on the pitch.”
But Vaikla went through the difficult rehab process, which took longer than normal, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and that passion and love for the game was still burning.

Thankfully, he got the call from Toronto FC, and spent last season playing for TFC II, revamping his game, trying to get back to the professional level. Knowing there wouldn’t be a spot on TFC’s main club, this season, he was loaned to FC Edmonton to get more of an opportunity, and Vaikla has taken his game to a whole new level.

“Luckily, Toronto FC gave me a call, and I decided to give it one more go, and I haven’t looked back,” said Vaikla. “This is a career that I love. It’s my passion. There’s no better feeling than making big saves and winning games. I feel like there is a lot more that I can still give to the game and a lot more that I can accomplish before I hang up my boots for good.”

While the Eddies have struggled on the pitch this season with a 0-4-7 record, Vaikla has been outstanding in net. He’s given FC Edmonton a steady presence in goal, and he’s making the most of his second opportunity to play professional soccer.
“I knew coming here was going to be a big challenge with the team and the circumstances it’s under, but I kind of like the ‘back against the wall’ mentality’ and try and come here and do what I do to help the team out,” said Vaikla. “This was an opportunity for me to come here and show my skills to the country and help move my career forward.”

Vaikla left home at 16 to play professionally in England. He had stops in Sweden, Norway and Estonia. He’s become one of the young leaders on FC Edmonton.
“A lot of guys on our team are first-year pros, and I’ve been through it, and I want to help them get to the highest level they can,” said Vaikla.

Vaikla has big aspirations in his return to the pitch. He worked incredibly hard in his injury recovery and isn’t just interested in getting back on the pitch. He wants to make an impact and continue to develop as a goalkeeper. So far, so good on that front, as Vaikla is one of the top goalkeepers in the CPL. Vaikla has goals to get back to MLS as a starting goalkeeper, and he wants to put himself into consideration for the Canadian national team in 2026.
“We learn this in life that when you go through adverse moments and challenges and sometimes the door is very very close to being closed in your face, you realize how hard you have to work to continue in this business,” said FC Edmonton head coach Alan Koch.

“Andreas comes into work every single day. He puts his head down and puts in the work. He’s incredibly hungry, and you can see he’s grateful for this opportunity, because he’s had good and tough challenges already in his career, it makes you appreciate what you have in front of you.

“I’m excited for Andreas, he’s a starting goalkeeper for a professional football club, where he’s embraced this opportunity and gotten better and better, and I’m a firm believer that he will go play at a higher level in some stage of his career.”

Vaikla has had to work incredibly hard for everything he’s achieved in soccer, and now after some tough experiences, he’s relishing his chance to play the game he loves at a high level once again. “The target is to go back to Toronto FC or any other MLS club and fight to be a starter. It’s not going to be easy, sometimes clubs, when you come from a smaller league, they don’t take you as seriously, but I feel like I have the skills and talent to compete and when I get my shot, I need to take it,” said Vaikla. “At the end of the day, I’m just enjoying the moment right now and being in Edmonton and playing the game again at a high level.” Koch has seen his keeper improve in many different areas in game, during his short stint with the club. Vaikla’s embraced the challenge of playing in front of a very young and inexperienced team and is learning as much as he can to become the best goalkeeper he can be. He’s shown resilience and character throughout this season with the Eddies.
“He’s getting better in his training environment every day, and playing games is building his confidence. Opportunity is one of the biggest things players need in this game. if you don’t get an opportunity, you can’t showcase yourself, and he’s come in and worked hard to get this opportunity and he’s making the most of this opportunity and in many respects, he’s become a fantastic role model for our players,” said Koch.

“In this day and age, a lot of players seem to think they should be just given things, and Andreas hasn’t been given anything. He’s worked incredibly hard to get the starting position, and he’s worked incredibly hard to maintain it and continue to grow and get better as the season goes along.”

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