Canadian football legend Christine Sinclair is not looking back.
While celebrations will be held Friday to break the record for goals he scored more than two years ago, Sinclair is not focused on recognition.
“We forgot about that one,” he said with a smile.
“It’s been so long that personally and as a team, we’ve moved on and we’ve achieved so much. It would have been great to celebrate with my friends and family but much bigger things have happened since then, important things. So I’m focusing on that now.”
Sinclair set a new world record in January 2020 when he scored his 185th goal on the international stage. He’s since added three more — and one Olympic championship.
Now the Canadian women’s soccer team will celebrate the gold medal they won in Tokyo last summer with a pair of friendlies. The match will see Canada, ranked sixth in the world, host No. 39 Nigerians in Vancouver on Friday and Langford, BC, on Monday.
While Canada has medals at three consecutive Olympics (two bronze, one gold), the women’s team is still somewhat underrated on the international stage, said Sinclair.
“I saw some of my team-mates here lose awards and things they should have won. It’s sad,” he said.
“But neither of us plays this sport for individual awards. It’s team awards, gold medals, things like that. We have that in our back pocket now. So we’re just out there proving everyone wrong and showing day by day who we are and getting better.”
This week marks Sinclair’s return to the national team after he missed the tournament in England in February following the death of his mother.
“Christine just brings that calm aura to the group. It’s fantastic to have it back,” said head coach Bev Priestman. “And being here in BC feels so special with his family, friends and fans.”
This dynamic forward has made 308 appearances for Canada, including 302 starters, and scored 188 goals and 53 assists in international games.
He also helps the next generation of stars thrive.
Jordyn Huitema remembers joining the national team as a young player, nervous about being on the same pitch as veterans.
“I came mostly as a sponge,” said the 20-year-old forward for Paris-Saint Germain. “And I started talking to (Sinclair) a lot and learning from him and that made our bond closer as time went on. I really think we’re a lot closer now. ”
Hailing from the suburbs of Burnaby, BC, Sinclair expects 50 or 60 friends and family members to take part in the game at BC Place Vancouver, including his young nieces and nephews.
“It’s always special to play in front of those who mean the most to you,” he said. “Obviously with the way the Olympics are happening they can’t be there in person and with the pandemic I can’t see them much. So it will be special. ”
As well as marking Sinclair’s milestone, Friday’s game will be a farewell to Canadian goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe, who announced his retirement in January.
Asked if he could also play his last national team game in front of the home crowd, 38-year-old Sinclair replied emphatically “No.”
“If Steph gets retirement game here, then I definitely get retirement game here,” he said with a laugh.
—Gemma Karstens-Smith, Canadian Press
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