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Hutchinson named Canadian soccer player of the year

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The Canadian Press
12/12/2012 1:35:39 PM
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PSV Eindhoven midfielder Atiba Hutchinson is Canada's player of the year, but the Brampton, Ont., native is not quite ready to return home to play his club soccer.

The Canadian Soccer Association named the 29-year-old its male player of the year for a second time on Wednesday. He also won the BMO Canadian Player of the Year award in 2010.

"I'm very happy with this achievement," Hutchinson said on a conference call. "I didn't really expect it.

"The last couple of months have gone well for me. I've been in good form."

Hutchinson has two goals in 16 matches this season for PSV, who lead the Dutch first division. He is on the rebound from a difficult 18-month stretch in which he had three knee surgeries.

His contract with PSV expires June 30, but he hopes to play another two or three years in Europe, preferably in England, before ending his career in Major League Soccer.

"I'd like to have another contract here in Europe and then see what happens," said Hutchinson, who reportedly turned down an offer to stay at PSV. "But I'd definitely like to experience the MLS league and play somewhere in Canada with one of the teams (Vancouver, Toronto or Montreal)."

He said even an offer of designated player status, which pays more than the MLS maximum salary, would not tempt him to come back right away.

"At this precise moment right now I don't think I would," he said. "I'd still like to see if I could go to a higher league here in Europe.

"England would be a dream come true for me. So I still have thoughts on staying here for another couple of years and after that, we'll see what comes up from any of the MLS teams, especially in Canada. It's definitely a thought of mine to finish off playing in Canada."

There has been rumour of interest from English clubs Stoke City and Fulham. Hutchinson hopes to play in the best league possible, like England, Germany or Spain.

The lanky, six-foot-two Hutchinson started his pro career with Toronto in the defunct A-League before moving to Oster in Sweden in 2004. After a stop at Helsingborg in Sweden, he played for FC Copenhagen in Denmark from 2006 to 2010 and was named Danish Super Liga player of the year in his final season.

He signed a three-year contract with PSV on April 22, 2010.

"The level is definitely higher," he said of the Dutch league. "In Denmark, it's a good passing game but it's a little more direct.

"In Holland, they like to play the possession game. A lot of teams play 4-3-3 and I had to get used to that formation. For me, it's been OK. I like to keep the ball and play a possession game."

He has played 62 times for Canada, but does not expect to be picked for a friendly match Jan. 27 against Denmark because it will be held in Tucson, Ariz. He said the team usually goes with North American-based players instead of flying them in from Europe when a match is on its own continent.

But he wants to remain part of the national team, even if his last time out he was part of the humiliating 8-1 loss in Honduras that eliminated Canada from qualifying for the 2014 World Cup.

Hutchinson's favourite position is as a central midfielder, but he is sometimes moved forward and at other times plays right fullback.

He doesn't mind where he plays. He's just glad the knee trouble is behind him so he can play his best soccer again.

"To come back from that and have a good year of playing football at a high level and feeling very comfortable and playing without pain, that was the most important thing to me," he said. "I wanted to enjoy football and be pain-free and it's just getting better and better."

Atiba Hutchinson (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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