Soccer icon Sinclair ends legendary Canada career with win
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Christine Sinclair, the world’s top international goal scorer among both women and men, played her final match with the Canadian national team on Tuesday night.
Sinclair, 40, ended her 23-year national team career with a 1-0 victory against Australia at Vancouver’s BC Place — renamed Christine Sinclair Place for the occasion.
Sinclair has scored 190 goals since she made her national team debut in 2000. Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, the game’s top scorer among men, has 128 international goals.
It was Sinclair’s 331st appearance for Canada, second only in international soccer to retired U.S. star Kristine Lilly, who played in 354 games.
“To see the growth of the game, see where it’s at now, and the opportunities that are available, whether it’s in the national team or playing pro. Honestly I never thought in my career that this was going to happen. And I just feel fortunate to be a part of that growth and it’s incredible to experience the change,” she said before the match.
More than 45,000 fans were on hand for the game. In addition to Sinclair, the team also honored midfielder Sophie Schmidt, who played in her final game after a 19-year national team career, and former goalkeeper Erin McLeod, who retired in January.
“Tonight, the world’s greatest goalscorer — Christine Sinclair — is stepping onto the pitch with Team Canada for the last time. @Sincy 12, thank you for inspiring all of us. Your impact on the game, and on sports in Canada, is something we’ll be celebrating for quite some time,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau posted to social media.
When Sinclair was subbed out in the second half, Schmidt took her place on the field after an emotional embrace.
With Sinclair, Canada won the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics. She won bronze medals at both the 2012 and 2016 Games.
Sinclair is also among just five players to appear in six Women’s World Cups, and one of just three players to score in five. But a World Cup trophy eluded her.
She was asked what advice she would give young players looking at a career in soccer.
“All the players on the national team, we were once that young kid that had aspirations and dreams of playing professionally, and representing Canada at World Cups and Olympics,” Sinclair said. “There’s no secret. It’s a lot of work but man it’s the best job in the world. Just go for it. Anything’s possible.”
Sinclair plans to play one more season for her club team, the Portland Thorns in the National Women’s Soccer League.
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