Any football coach will tell you that chemistry between players is crucial to success. With their shared history, mutual respect and enduring friendship, Canada U-20 centre back David Edgar and jet-heeled winger Jaime Peters have more chemistry than most and will be eager to put it to good use at the FIFA U-20 World Cup on home soil.
Edgar is tall, pale and of decidedly Anglo extraction while Peters is stocky, shortish and first-generation Grenadian-Canadian. In truth, the two are a visual study in stark contrast. But their similarities run deep, as do their pasts and understanding out on the pitch.
"Jaime (Peters) is a defender's nightmare," towering Canada captain Edgar, who had a breakout 2006/7 with Premiership side Newcastle United, told FIFA.com. "He always seems to get the better of me in training too... he knows just how to wind me up."
The admiration works both ways, as Peters - third in the running for Championship side Ipswich Town player of the year fan poll - gushed about his mate Edgar. "He's our leader out there and the rest of us look to his example... he brings the best out of his team-mates and if we are to have any success here (U-20 World Cup) it will be down in large part to him."
From foes to bros
Such obvious fondness among athletes bred to be tougher-than-most and competitive-to-the-end is a bit special, and a look back at the pair's long history offers some insight into their relationship both on and off the pitch.
"I'm from Pickering and he's from Kitchener (neighbouring Ontario suburbs near the provincial capital of Toronto)," Peters says. "We were playing against each other when we were eleven years old and went head-to-head for many years after that."
Edgar sees those early days on opposite sides of the pitch as critical to the duo's current understanding. "We used to knock heads all the time because he was a striker and I was a defender...but eventually we both landed in the Provincial select team and from there we became best of friends."
After excelling at Provincial level, Edgar and Peters then graduated to the National Team program, became room-mates on the road (they still are to this day) and the pair then landed on English shores - Edgar at Newcastle and Peters at Ipswich.
"We're in contact all the time over in England," Edgar remarked. "We see each other whenever we can too."
Heart-warming as their long friendship is, all generous sensibility and affection is left to one side when the pair get out on the training pitch. "During practice, we really try to dig it out hard. We're both really competitive and we push each other a lot in training. Sometimes it gets a little rough, like it used to in the old days," Peters says with a wry smile and a half chuckle.
"Having been on the opposite side of the pitch so many times together, we now know each others' instincts without having to think," Edgar added. "I know what he's going to do before he does it - his runs and his moves. He can say the same about me I'm sure."
The two will be linking up for their second consecutive FIFA U-20 World Cup together when Canada open their account against Chile in their home province at Toronto's National Soccer Stadium on 1 July. And both will be keen to make their history, chemistry and competitive spirit ring out.