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TORONTO — At six foot one and 220 pounds, Bright Dike looks near-indestructible.

But the Toronto FC striker has been let down by his bull-like body again and again and again. Dike has appeared in just 11 games since the end of the 2012 season.

Restored to fitness, the 28-year-old Nigerian international is eager to demonstrate what he can do.

“I feel amazing,” Dike said. “This is the best I’ve ever felt … I’m very excited for this season because it’s probably the best pre-season I’ve had since I’ve been in the league and I’ve been in the league for five years.”

With forwards Jozy Altidore, Sebastian Giovinco, Robbie Findley, Luke Moore and Canadian teenager Jordan Hamilton also on the roster, coach Greg Vanney has options up front. But Dike, a bull in a china shop, is a useful package.

“He sprints, he’s goal-oriented, he’s aggressive, he’s strong,” said Vanney.

Dike, pronounced Dee-kay, has already proved his worth this season.

As a substitute against Real Salt Lake, he made a run to pull a defender out of position before providing the final pass on a beautiful Jackson goal whose build-up involved 12 passes and 10 different TFC players.

“When Bright gets in there, he creates trouble,” said Vanney.

Former manager Ryan Nelsen saw the same thing, happily anticipating some on-field Dike havoc only to see injuries deprive him of his newly acquired human wrecking ball.

Dike lives up to his name. Dike means strength in Nigeria’s Igbo language.

Born in Oklahoma City to Nigerian parents, Dike goes by his middle name Bright. His first name is Chinedu, which means God Guides Us.

Despite the injuries, Dike is no china doll. His chest resembles a coffee table and his booming voice matches the big body.

“Anyone can see from 50 yards away, he’s a massive guy,” said Toronto fullback Justin Morrow.

“It’s always fun to see him go against other defenders when he’s on your team, and kind of bully them a little bit,” he added.

Dike was durable at Notre Dame, playing 86 career games and leading the Big East Conference in scoring as a junior and senior.

He has been star-crossed in recent years, however.

Dike tore his Achilles playing for the Portland Timbers in a 2011 pre-season friendly. Two years later, in another Timbers pre-season game, he injured his anterior and medial cruciate ligaments and meniscus when two players fell on him from different directions.

At the start of training camp in 2014, his first with Toronto, he said he was “buzzing … ready to go.”

Days later he tore his other Achilles when a player stepped on his heel while he was pivoting in practice. It was a particularly brutal blow in that he was on track to be with Nigeria at the World Cup.

“Worst day of my life,” he tweeted three days before undergoing surgery.

After months of hard rehab, he ended up seeing 19 minutes of action last season.

His best year to date was 2012 when he scored five goals in 12 games for Portland when given the chance to play late in the season.

He came east in a September 2013 trade in a deal that sent forward Maximiliano Urruti and an international roster spot to the Timbers. Toronto also received a first-round pick and allocation money.

Dike now has his eyes on the 2018 World Cup, although his sister may get to soccer’s showcase first. Oklahoma State’s Courtney Dike is on Nigeria’s preliminary squad for this summer’s Women’s World Cup in Canada.

Like her brother, Courtney is a striker — although a much a smaller, faster version, Bright is quick to point out.

“Kind of a girl version of Giovinco,” he said.

Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

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