LANDRY: British kicker Dean Fathfull rides wave to Elks success


If you haven’t yet seen the video, you absolutely must.

Dean Faithfull, the 36-year-old rookie placekicker with the Edmonton Elks, walks into the team’s locker room after his 42-yard field goal,
with no time left on the clock, had given the Elks a 25-23 win over the Calgary Stampeders.


Faithfull is mobbed by his teammates, and they lift him up on their shoulders. That’s when it happens. Faithfull puts on a mock regal face, and offers a royal wave to the thunderous cheers of those who surround him. The image was frozen in time as the Elks used it as a profile picture on social media this week.

Quite a moment that was, for the native of Southampton, England, the former soccer player who didn’t even take up kicking the type of football that has two pointy ends until he was very nearly 33 years old.

“That moment in the locker room was brilliant, one I’ll remember,” says Faithfull. “And it’s nice to connect with the boys a bit. I feel a bit closer to the lads now. And I suppose that’s the best way I can earn their respect is by making kicks. And important ones.

“It’s something that’s gonna stay with me a long time,” he adds. “Hopefully forever.”

There’s a lot in that wave, the wave that celebrated a walk-off win. There’s a sense of history and a sense of humour, something that is delightfully, abundantly evident in chatting with Faithfull. There’s also relief and there is satisfaction not only for him but for his teammates as well as the fans of Edmonton too.

Dean Faithfull made one heck of a journey to get to that wave.

I’m interested in his backstory and the one Faithfull tells is fascinating. But I’m also interested in that wave. Not only did he do it in the locker room, he also did it on the field once the immediate bedlam in the aftermath of his kick had faded. He had his left hand on his hip as he saluted all of his loyal subjects — they were legion at that moment — and so I start the interview with that.

“I turned around and lost my mind for two minutes,” Faithfull says. “And then when I sort of gathered my thoughts, I thought, ‘Oh, why not? Give it the Queen’s wave.’”

Faithfull didn’t ever perform the royal wave as a soccer player, he says. “I was a defender,” he laughs. “So I didn’t score a lot.”

As a 19-year-old, he began to play college level soccer with the Florida Institute of Technology (Florida Tech). At the age of 23, with a degree in his pocket, he turned professional. He played eight years all tolled, including two in Australia, one in Costa Rica and another in Belgium. Two more in Trinidad & Tobago.

When the soccer was done, Faithfull’s trajectory was uncertain but his future would most certainly not include ever being a placekicker for the Edmonton Elks or anyone else for that matter. Never even remotely crossed his mind.

Fate — or maybe just coincidence — paid a visit, though. When Faithfull re-connected with his Florida Tech soccer coach, Robin Chan, over lunch one day, Chan asked if he’d ever considered a switch to football. That morning, apparently, Florida Tech’s football coach had reached out to Chan to ask if he knew any soccer players that still had university eligibility. And might one of them, with a strong leg, be suitable for his team?

“I laughed,” recalls Faithfull. “Because I was (nearly) 33 at the time.”

But he was intrigued by the prospect of catching a couple more years at college and maybe completing a master’s degree.

“Me being me I said, ‘Why not?’”

Faithfull was supposed to fly back to England the next day. Instead, he cancelled his flight and then started searching for “How To” videos on the internet. Seriously.

The Queen never put her left hand on her hip when she waved, the way Faithfull did in playful self-aggrandizement. At least I don’t think so.

“That’s the Faithfull touch,” he says, laughing.

The royal wave, Faithfull style, came about for a number of reasons. The most obvious would probably be his nationality and his southern English accent. No doubt his teammates find that endearing and worth some gentle ribbing, the way that football players do.

It also came about because of Faithfull’s knowledge of history and his sense of the connection that the stadium his team calls home has to Queen Elizabeth II.

“I know the Queen was here years ago and had her own little spot,” says Faithfull, referring to the 1978 Commonwealth Games and Her Majesty’s private viewing area. I joked about it with the boys in the locker room saying, ‘You know, maybe if I score a game winner I’ll do the Queen’s wave,’ and so that’s how it kind of started. It’s just a bit of fun, really.”

Three years ago, a bit of celebratory football fun would not have been on Faithfull’s mind after his initial tryout kick with Florida Tech’s football team.

“I think his first kick, he had horrible form,” says Steve Englehart, the Florida Tech football coach who granted Faithfull an audition in early 2020. “He kinda squibbed it over,” says Englehart of Faithfull’s maiden kick-off attempt. “He just didn’t know what he was doing.”


“I’m standing on the 10-yard line,” remembers Englehart,” and about the next six kicks go over my head into the end zone. And I was like, ‘Wow.’ So then I tried a couple of field goals with him — I just held the ball for him — and he missed the field goals. But from 40 yards they were going on top of the building that was behind the goal posts. It was crazy.”

“I’d never kicked a football before, says Faithfull. “So I was on YouTube the night before (watching) ‘How to kick an American football.’ I turned up the next day and did well. The coach said, ‘I want to offer you a scholarship. We like what we see, we can teach you the rest.’ It went from there.”

A roadblock jumped up at that time, one with which you are no doubt incredibly familiar. The COVID-19 pandemic began its surge and Faithfull found himself back in England, unable to return to Florida. So he could not get in-person, one-on-one coaching.

“I just taught myself,” Faithfull says, matter-of-factly. “I taught myself on rugby fields in England. I ordered a football off Amazon and just kicked every day. My parents thought I was nuts. I said, ‘Trust me, I can do something with this.’”

Englehart set up his new potential kicker with an instructor who gave tips and suggested drills from afar. In return, Faithfull sent back video of his lonely kicking sessions, continuing to amaze the Florida Tech coaches.

“I remember one video,” says Englehart. “He kicked, like, four 40-yard field goals with his right leg and then kicked four 40-yard field goals with his left leg. It’s crazy.”

“That’s how I got into it, honestly,” says Faithfull of his field goal kicking origin story.

“By accident. But once I kicked those first few balls I was hooked.”


“God Save The Dean.” That’s the caption the Elks placed over a picture of Faithfull after his winning kick and his “hello loyal subjects” celebration. He’s getting lots of love in the aftermath. Actually, he’d noticed some flowing his way even before Saturday’s heroics.

“I saw a couple of fans with Faithfull shirts on the other day and it was just like, ‘Why? Why do you want my shirt?’ It’s cool. Nice to see.”

Englehart is not surprised by how well Faithfull has fit in, in Edmonton. Nor was he surprised by the cheeky celebration that came after the field goal.

“He was hilarious,” Englehart says of his first meeting with Faithfull. “He had great charisma and I just knew he’d be great in the locker room. And that’s just the way he is. He’s light-hearted. But at the same time he takes what he’s doing pretty seriously.”

Faithfull would never kick in a game for Englehart and Florida Tech because the school ended its football program amidst the ravages of the pandemic. But Faithfull remained eager to see how far he could take his new craft, and Englehart — who is now coach at Presbyterian College in South Carolina — was eager to see too. The coach made calls to some schools and Faithfull made sure to get his video up and around on social media.

“I actually had about 13 schools reach out to me,” remembers Faithfull. “That August (2021) I was in Colorado, kicking in college.”

With the Colorado State University Pueblo Thunderwolves, Faithfull played one season, and at the age of 34, became the oldest player in NCAA Division II history. He went 7-for-12 in field goal attempts and 20-for-22 in converts, averaging 58.5 yards on 44 kick-offs. When the season was over, he hoped he could back up the words he’d spoken to his parents, Sue and Paul, when he promised he could “do something with this.”

In the months that came after he left CSU, Faithfull was doing a little something with it. There was no pro football offer, but there was some money in teaching kids the skills he’d newly learned as a kicker. “I saved some money up and headed for L.A.,” says Faithfull of his trip to the coast to try out for the Elks. “I stayed in a hostel for the night, turned up and met Chris Jones and kicked some balls.

“And then I got the phone call on draft day.”

The Elks selected Faithfull in the CFL’s draft of Global players, taking him second overall. He thinks that more than his accuracy, it was the leg strength that once had him plopping footballs onto the roof at Florida Tech that got him noticed that day in Los Angeles.

“I think that’s what got the attention of Chris Jones, initially,” says Faithfull, who believes he can make kicks from much farther than he has been asked to by the Elks. “The longest I’ve hit was a 75-yarder, in practice, in Dallas,” he says, confirming it was a snap and hold kick, but with no defenders rushing. “I would definitely say I’m comfortable from 65 and in. When I catch it, it can fly.”

The Edmonton Elks’ 36-year-old rookie kicker had a good camp and he’s had a good season, connecting on 17 of 21 field goals, the longest of which, so far, stands at 46 yards.

Which brings us right back to that 42-yard winner and the celebration that followed.

Immortalized on video, it isn’t just about a bit of fun.

“It was also a huge amount of relief, which is hard to explain,” Faithfull says. “Really for everyone. For the team — I just felt for the boys that have been there years from the start — just to get a win like that. And a day like that for the Edmonton fans who, you know, the ones that have stuck with us. I mean, it’s just amazing for them.

“I just feel so lucky to be here and even more lucky that I can actually be successful and bring some success for the team and make a difference. Because that’s all I want to do is make a difference and be helpful.”

And wave a little wave every now and again.


I have some friends who are English, and they like to tell me that it is football, not soccer.

Same goes for Faithfull, though he admits he’d have been one to admonish me as well, not so long ago.

“I’ve learned to embrace it (his current profession) as football, whereas when I first came across the sport, I was probably the same,” says Faithfull, laughing. “You know, ‘It’s not football. There’s only one football and I refuse to say soccer.’ But now I’ve embraced my new life.

“I still get a bit of abuse from my friends back home when I say ‘football’ so freely and I’m referring to American or Canadian football. If I say ‘soccer’ to my friends in England, or my dad, I always get corrected.”

Faithfull has learned, however, how to avoid that by staying aware as to which kind of fans he’s around.

“Whoever I’m speaking with I’m able to just switch over,” he says. “I’ve got pretty good.”

Maybe we can all just get along. Can football and football just coexist?

“They do in my world, now,” he says.

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