Atletico Ottawa Add Two Huge Spanish Signings

Atletico Ottawa Add Two Huge Spanish Signings

On June 28th Atletico Ottawa announced that they had made their first signings of the summer transfer window. Alberto Zapater 38, a defensive midfielder, joins the team on a free transfer for the remainder of the 2023 season with an option for 2024. Ruben del Campo 23 is the second signing for the day. The forward joins the team on a free transfer until the end of the 2024 CPL season.

The two new signing pose for a photo with Atletico Ottawa CEO and Drew Beckie (Atletico Ottawa Twitter @atletiOttawa)

Alberto Zapater

Alberto Zapater will wear number 21 for the club. He is the biggest signing in club history and arguably the biggest in the CPL. 

Zapater joins the team after having played over 450 matches in Europe at the highest levels. This includes 138 appearances in La Liga, appearances in the top flights of Italy, Portugal, and Russia. This also includes scoring Genoa of Italy’s first-ever goal in the Europa League.


“We are very excited to welcome Alberto to Ottawa as one of, if not the biggest, signing in Canadian Premier League history,” expressed Fernando López, CEO of Atlético Ottawa. “His remarkable career speaks for itself, and we believe he will give our team the boost we need to covert our good performances to even better results. This is a position on the field we have been determined to bolster and in Alberto, I think we have found the right match for our squad. We will continue with our commitment to bring top players to the nation’s capital to become the benchmark for soccer in the Canadian landscape.”

Zapater made over 400 appearances for Real Zaragoza (Oliver Duch)

Head Coach Carlos González added: “Zapater’s arrival is a positive step for our squad this season. His understanding of the game on and off the ball plus his ability to compete will give more solidity to our midfield and increase the overall strength of the team. We are confident that his football, experience and hierarchy as well as the passion he shows for the game will greatly benefit our team directly and indirectly as well”.

Zapater joins Atletico Ottawa after he bid farewell to his boyhood club Real Zaragoza at the end of their 2022/23 season, where he left a club legend.


Zapater had other options in Europe, but choose to try something new and come to Canada. Reflecting on his decision, Zapater shared, “While I had offers in Spain, I chose not to continue playing there because Real Zaragoza is the club of my heart. I wanted a new challenge, something entirely different from my past experiences. Canada was among four countries where I received offers, but Atlético Ottawa was the first to reach out to me after my season ended. I heard great things and felt a genuine sense of love and support. I am eager to bring my family to this incredible city and country. Adapting to the playing style and getting to know my teammates will take a little time, but I am determined to do so as quickly as possible. I am here to contribute, enjoy the game, and compete to win every match.”

The big question about Zapater is if he can stay healthy? At 38 there are a lot of miles already on his legs and playing in the CPL on turf probably isn’t going to help. If he manages to stay healthy, he could be the missing piece that will help turn this team and season around. 

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Ruben del Campo

Ruben del Campo will wear number 99 for the club and will look to have an immediate impact with the team, especially with striker Malcolm Shaw off on international duty.

Del Campo is a product of the Atletico Madrid youth academy, which is where he honed his skills under the guidance of Atletico Ottawa’s current head coach Carlos Gonzalez. 

Ruben Del Campo it’s a great addition to our team,” said Carlos González, Head Coach, Atlético Ottawa, “He is a striker that complements well with what we already have in the attack, adding variety to our options with an ability to complement our style. With his high number of touches inside the box, good reading of spaces and explosive power he will give our squad with more offensive tools.”

Ruben del Campo. (c/o Atlético Ottawa)

Del Campo last played for San Fernando CD in the Spanish third division, where he scored four goals and provided two assists in the first 11 games of the season. 

“I am excited to start this new chapter of my career and immerse myself in the world of professional soccer in North America. This opportunity presents a significant milestone in my journey, allowing me to grow personally and professionally,” said Del Campo. “Reuniting with Carlos Gonzalez as my coach fills me with fond memories of my time at the academy. Under his guidance, I gained invaluable lessons and developed so much as a player. Getting the chance to work under him again allows me to further nurture my potential and elevate my game to new heights.”

The big question about del Campo is if he can produce goals? He did score 4 times in the first 11 games of the 2022/23 season but he hasn’t scored since and he played 29 games. Hopefully, a new team, coach and environment will be the change he needs to start scoring again.

Both new signings will have to sit out the June 30th game away to Pacific as the official transfer window doesn’t open until July 5th.


Other Roster News

Ottawa made room for these signings by mutually agreeing with U-Sports draft pick Junior Agyekim to have him released by the club. Junior was Ottawa’s first pick in the 2023 U-Sports draft. He never featured for the team this season but did appear a couple of times on the bench.


This puts Ottawa’s roster at the maximum number of 23 players allowed. This includes 7 international players which is also the maximum in the league. Currently, Ottawa is not in compliance with the league’s international roster rules. The league says that “At all times, 50% of all CPL Club’s International Players must be U23 (born January 1st, 2000 or later). If a CPL Club wishes to utilize the maximum seven (7) International Players, the 7th signed International Player must be U21 (born January 1st, 2002 or later)”. With the addition of Zapater, this means that Ottawa will have 4 players that aren’t U23. This includes Ollie Bassett, Gianni dos Santos, and Miguel Acosta. While new singing Ruben del Campo is a U23 both Diego Espejo and Aboubakary Sacko count as U23 and U21. In theory, this means that one of the older international players would need to get transferred out, the question is which one?

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