MONTREAL — Rod Fanni loves the city of Montreal. When he played with the Impact during the 2018 season, the center back bought an apartment to settle in with his family.
Montreal Impact management told Fanni there were good chances he would come back in 2019. However, situations within the club changed.
“(Returning to the Impact) was in the plans,” said Fanni. “I got confirmed that (picking up the player option) would be done, but circumstances made that it couldn’t be done. Things had changed within the club so it didn’t get done, but it’s like that.”
Fanni left Montreal, but ultimately came back three months ago. The Frenchman admitted he came close to retirement before the phone rang. Then-coach Remi Garde and assistant director of player personnel Vassili Cremanzidis contacted Fanni about returning to the club.
“I was surprised, a lot happened in little time recently as well. It’s a bit like a series,” Fanni said. “I was contacted when the team still had Remi Garde at the helm and also Vassili (Cremanzidis), we had a lot of discussions at that time. I felt like it really was the club’s and the coach’s intention to bring me back.”
Hired during a coaching change
With Wilmer Cabrera now at the helm, the club still decided to pull the trigger on Fanni. A situation the center back found interesting, but didn’t stop his drive to return to the Impact.
“It was a little bit special to talk with one coach and finally come in with a new one,” he admitted. “Those are the realities of football, I wish (Remi Garde) good luck with the rest, but my mission is to help the Impact make the playoffs.”
“I spoke with (Wilmer Cabrera) yesterday and he’s a very nice guy. I appreciate the communication with him and I will give my best for the team, for the coach, for everyone because I think the Impact deserves it,” he added.
Fanni won’t be able to aid in the Impact’s Canadian Championship title quest. The team’s list of eligible players for the cup competition is already full and Fanni will not be able to play in the two-legged final against Toronto FC.
“I don’t walk on water”
Fanni helped the Impact in a time of need when Zakaria Diallo tore his achilles tendon early last season. One year later, Fanni is set to help Montreal once again following Diallo’s departure for France’s RC Lens. The former France international is confident he will be able to assist the squad, but remains realistic in his approach.
“I don’t walk on water. I will do what I know how to do,” Fanni said. “From the outside when I was watching the games there were certain things that know I can bring in terms of unity and what I used to bring when I was here.”
The former Marseille player believes the Impact can make the MLS playoffs despite the 1-7-1 record in their past nine games.
“I know that sometimes there isn’t much needed, but maybe more communication in certain cases,” he said. “Sometimes little changes can make a difference and I will try to bring that until I become fully available to play.”
Fanni last played a competitive game on October 28, 2018. His fitness level was the first question that came up at the negotiation table. Fanni didn’t give a specific date for a return to action. He added he won’t need time to be back to game shape.
“I don’t like to give out numbers because it’ll stick in people’s heads, but I think it’ll happen pretty quickly,” he said. “I had kept in shape, but I still need a certain amount of time to get back to game shape.”
No word on 2020 extension
Fanni has his eyes stuck on helping the Impact make the playoffs and nothing else. He admitted that both parties discussed a longer contract, but ultimately left the decision for the offseason.
“On both sides, if they are happy about what I brought and on my end as well if I feel the desire that they want me to stay,” Fanni said. “But for now we need to focus on making the playoffs.”