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Canada Soccer honours Fleming, Eustaquio as players of the year

Jessie Fleming Jessie Fleming - The Canadian Press

Jessie Fleming and Stephen Eustaquio, two key cogs in the Canadian midfield, have been named Canada Soccer Players of the Year.

The two winners were decided by a vote of Canadian coaches and media for their performance over the year for both Canada and their club teams, England's Chelsea for Fleming and Portugal's FC Porto for Eustaquio.

It marks the third straight year that Fleming has won the award. And this year's honour is perhaps especially fitting, given that the 25-year-old from London, Ont., is seen as the heir apparent to Christine Sinclair as Canada captain.

The 40-year-old Sinclair, who played her last international game earlier this month, won the Canadian award 14 times. Fleming has worn the captain's armband when Sinclair didn't start in recent times.

It's a first win for Eustaquio, ending Alphonso Davies' three-year hold on the men's award run. The 23-year-old Bayern Munich fullback had won the award four of the last five years.

Davies was runner-up this year with Lille forward Jonathan David third. Celtic fullback Alistair Johnston and Watford's Ismael Kone finished in the top five.

Asked if he saw himself as a potential Canada captain Eustaquio said he just wants to help Canada win.

"I love to play for Canada … If they give me that responsibility, I'm ready for it. But if not, we continue. No problem," he said.

Fleming offered a similar response.

"I think there's a lot of good leadership in our group, right now," she said. "If I'm given that responsibility then, of course, it's a challenge that I would like to take on. But it's not something I'm actively seeking."

Arsenal forward Cloe Lacasse was the women's runner-up with Chelsea fullback/midfielder Ashley Lawrence third. Lyon centre back Vanessa Gilles and Aston Villa forward Adriana Leon rounded out the top five.

News of Fleming's award came 10 years to the day she made her senior debut for Canada as a 15-year-old.

"This year and every year there's so many good candidates for the award," said Fleming. "I think it could have gone to a lot of players on our team. I don't know that giving an award to one person ever sits super-well with me."

"I'm just really grateful to have been on this team for as many years as I have," she added. "I feel like I've grown up on the team and I've had the opportunity to play with a lot of great players and feel like I've learned a lot. But I also still feel like I have a lot left to give the team and a lot that I still want to learn myself and hopefully give back to the younger players what I think a lot of the senior players have given me over the years."

Both the women and men have big years ahead with the women look to defend their Olympic title in Paris next summer while the Canadian men look to get past Trinidad and Tobago in March to qualify for Copa America.

Earlier this week, Kone and Harvard defender Jade Rose were named the Young Players of the Year, Samuel Charron Para Soccer Player of the Year and Safwane Mlah Futsal Player of the Year.

Eustaquio is the creative driving force in the Canadian midfield and, like Fleming, plays an important in delivering Canadian set-piece balls.

The 26-year-old from Leamington, Ont., scored a goal — the game-winner in Canada's first victory in Jamaica in 35 years — and registered an assist in six Canada matches in 2023.

At club through January through November, he made 41 appearances, played 2,732 minutes, scored five goals and added two assists for Porto. He helped the storied Portuguese club finish second in the 2022-23 Primeira Liga and reach the round of 16 in the UEFA Champions League.

Eustaquio has won 34 caps for Canada.

Fleming featured in 12 of Canada’s 13 matches and had one assist while helping Canada qualify for the Paris Olympics and taking part in her third World Cup.

Able to play both a deeper midfielder and more attacking role, she has 123 caps to her credit.

At club level from January to November 2023, Fleming made 32 appearances, played 1,588 minutes and scored two goals. She also helped Chelsea reach the semifinals of the UEFA Champions League.

Canada Soccer Players of the Year

2023: Stephen Eustaquio and Jessie Fleming

2022: Alphonso Davies and Jessie Fleming

2021: Alphonso Davies and Jessie Fleming

2020: Alphonso Davies and Kadeisha Buchanan

2019: Jonathan David and Ashley Lawrence

2018: Alphonso Davies and Christine Sinclair

2017: Atiba Hutchinson and Kadeisha Buchanan

2016: Atiba Hutchinson and Christine Sinclair

2015: Atiba Hutchinson and Kadeisha Buchanan

2014: Atiba Hutchinson and Christine Sinclair

2013: Will Johnson and Christine Sinclair

2012: Atiba Hutchinson and Christine Sinclair

2011: Dwayne De Rosario and Christine Sinclair

2010: Atiba Hutchinson and Christine Sinclair

2009: Simeon Jackson and Christine Sinclair

2008: Julian de Guzman and Christine Sinclair

2007: Dwayne De Rosario and Christine Sinclair

2006: Dwayne De Rosario and Christine Sinclair

2005: Dwayne De Rosario and Christine Sinclair

2004: Paul Stalteri and Christine Sinclair

2003: Pat Onstad and Charmaine Hooper

2002: Jason deVos and Charmaine Hooper

2001: Paul Stalteri and Andrea Neil

2000: Craig Forrest and Christine Sinclair

1999: Jim Brennan and Geraldine Donnelly

1998: Tomasz Radzinski and Silvana Burtini

1997: Mark Watson and Janine Helland

1996: Paul Peschisolido and Geraldine Donnelly

1995: Alex Bunbury and Charmaine Hooper

1994: Craig Forrest and Charmaine Hooper

1993: Alex Bunbury


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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 15, 2023