From Mohun Bagan to Copa America, the incredible journey of Haiti’s Sony Norde

Norde had a fantastic season for Mohun Bagan in the 2015-16 I-League season, where he was fittingly given the ‘Best Player of the Season’ award at the end of the season

A screen grab of Copa America website
A screen grab of Copa America website

It’s a fascinating football story, the story of Haiti’s 26-year-old forward Sony Norde. Not so long ago, a couple of months to be exact, Norde was toiling away in Mohun Bagan’s famed shobuj maroon (or maroon and green in English) in Siliguri. On Wednesday, as Brazil met Haiti in the 2016 Copa America at the Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Norde was on the bench, awaiting his turn to make an appearance in the game.

That, however didn’t happen. His team, Haiti were handed a proper hiding by the five-time world champions, who won the match 7-1, with Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho starring with a hat-trick.

But how did he get there in the first place? For a start, Norde had a fantastic season for Mohun Bagan in the 2015-16 I-League season, where he was fittingly given the ‘Best Player of the Season’ award at the end of the season. In the 11 league matches Norde played for Mohan Bagan, he scored five goals. While that may not seem a great return for a classical forward, Norde plays out wide for Mohun Bagan, often turning provider for the Trinidadian Cornell Glen, who netted 11 goals in his 16 league appearances for the Kolkata giants. Mohun Bagan finished second in the I-League this season, behind champions Bengaluru FC.

Norde also featured in the flagship Indian Super League’s (ISL) 2015 season, where he turned out for Mumbai City FC, the franchise owned by actor Ranbir Kapoor and Bimal Parekh. In what would be Norde’s debut season in the ISL, he finished with three goals and three assists, and formed a more than handy partnership with Indian captain Sunil Chhetri.

After a trophy-laden spell in Bangladesh, where he represented Sheikh Jamal Dhanmodi in the Bangladesh Premier League, Norde made the switch to Kolkata’s Mohun Bagan ahead of the 2014-15 season. Norde’s impact at Mohun Bagan was almost immediate, as his 9 goals (third highest) and 13 assists (highest) helped Bagan clinch their first ever I-League title, pipping Bengaluru FC in a close race.

Prior to his exploits in the Indian subcontinent, which began in Bangladesh with Sheikh Russell Krira Chakra in 2013, Norde plied his trade Central and Latin America. He came through the youth setup at the legendary Argentine club, Boca Juniors, before switching to Mexican second division (Ascenso MX) club San Luis FC (now defunct).

After an impressive showing, where he scored eight goals for the club’s reserve team, he headed back to Boca in 2010/11 to link with the club’s second team. Norde would return to Mexico for yet another year in the Ascenso MX, this time for Estudiantes des Altemira (now known as Cafetaleros de Tapachula) before beginning his stint in the Indian subcontinent.

Norde has also represented his country 23 times since 2008, when he debuted for the Les Grenediers that year. He would also play a part for Haiti in the CONCACAF 2010 World Cup qualifiers matches. Norde’s most recent appearance came last month in the defeat to Colombia, where Norde replaced Wilde-Donald Guerrier just after half-time. Norde has scored two international goals for Haiti, coming against Antigua and Barbuda (2008) and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (2010).

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