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Tributes pour in for Sinclair in wake of plans to retire from international game


The greatest ever. The goat.

Tributes were quick to pour in Friday after news broke that Canada captain Christine Sinclair is retiring from international football at the end of the year.

"Simply put, she has single-handedly put Canadian soccer on the map," said former Canada teammate Rhian Wilkinson, who coached Sinclair at Portland. "Her legacy is enormous and touches every aspect of sport in our country. She is an example of excellence both on (and off) the field, and we are so fortunate that she happens to be Canadian."

"Very few players can lace up their boots and transcend a sport both in this country and globally," added Canada coach Bev Priestman. "Christine has done just that — both as a player and a person who stands up for what she believes. She is known and admired by all Canadians and has been pivotal in every single country-stopping moment."

The 40-year-old from Burnaby, B.C., who plans to play one more season for the NWSL Portland Thorns next year, is expected to play four more games for Canada before stepping away from the international game.

Canada hosts Brazil on Oct. 28 and 31 in Montreal and Halifax, respectively. Two more games are expected in the Nov. 27 to Dec. 5 FIFA international window although Canada Soccer has yet to confirm the specifics.

A source said the games will be against Australia with one in Vancouver. The other is expected in the same region.

"The moment when Christine’s last kick or final whistle goes for this country, she can leave the field knowing she has changed this game forever, inspired an entire generation, and paved a better future for all through her work off the pitch," said Priestman. "That is one tremendous legacy."

Sinclair, who has 190 goals in 327 international appearances, will leave the international game as its all-time leading scorer.

"I always knew she was a great footballer. But I know in the time we spent together she started to find her voice and brought other people with her in ways she'd never done before," said Toronto FC coach John Herdman, who coached Sinclair and the Canadian women from 2011 to 2018 before switching to the men's team.

"Watching what she did on the football field but also watching what she did at the (parliamentary) Heritage Committee, I thought for me that was very un-Christine-like and a very brave moment to show the type of leader she has become," he added. "I'm just proud of her."

Sinclair has scored against 43 different opponents in 22 different countries, according to Canada Soccer.

Ten of those goals came at the FIFA World Cup, with 12 more at the Olympic Games and another 46 in CONCACAF competitions.

"To the world’s greatest goalscorer, Canada’s own Christine Sinclair: We’ll miss seeing you out on the pitch, but we’ll always be proud of all that you’ve accomplished – and you should be proud of the legacy you’ve built," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on social media. "You rock."

Sinclair's next game will be a milestone 50th on Canadian soil since June 2001 when she scored the equalizer in a 2-2 draw with the U.S. at Toronto’s Varsity Stadium. Sinclair won 28 caps before making her senior debut in Canada after matches in Australia, Germany, Morocco, Norway, Portugal, Sweden and the U.S.

"Congratulations to Christine on a stellar career that has been extraordinary and inspiring both on and off the field. While her days as an active women’s national team player are coming to an end, her legacy will endure in the hearts and ambitions of so many young athletes across Canada and around the world.” said Canada Soccer president Charmaine Crooks.

Hockey Hall of Famer Hayley Wickenheiser, herself considered among the greatest in her sport, paid tribute to Sinclair's leadership both on the field and in advocating for women athletes.

“Few athletes come along that truly elevate and change the game both on and off the field. Christine did that every single day — and made everyone better around her," Wickenheiser, now an assistant general manager with the Toronto Maple Leafs, said in a statement. "She is a true leader. Time and time again, she was able to rise and perform on the greatest stages on the field and had the courage to stand up for what the women deserved off of it. Congrats on an awesome career!”

The U.S. women's national soccer team, which Sinclair was always fired up to compete against, paid tribute to Canada's captain on social media.

"Salute to an absolute legend of our game," the U.S. team posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, with the hashtag "ThankYouSinc"

However, given the heated rivalry between the North American squads, Sinclair had blocked the team's account.

"Hope she unblocks us to see this," the Americans added, with a "fingers crossed" emoji.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 20, 2023.