(Langford) As Christine Sinclair’s international career draws to a close, her teammates and coach say their extremely private captain is trying to make the most of being in the spotlight.
“She doesn’t like the attention. It’s not her personality, said midfielder Sophie Schmidt, a longtime friend and often roommate on the road. She deserves it. She never got the credit or attention she deserved during her career. I think most of all she is at home, in front of her local fans, her family and her friends. She just enjoys it and makes the most of it. »
Sinclair ends his international career against Australia in matches on Friday and Tuesday in Langford and Vancouver, respectively.
Schmidt and goalkeeper Erin McLeod will also be celebrated Tuesday at B. C. Place, which will be renamed “Christine Sinclair Place” for the evening.
The 35-year-old Schmidt announced in February that she was retiring from international soccer following this summer’s World Cup. She will put on her Canadian jersey for the last time in Vancouver. At 40, McLeod, a world-class goalkeeper, will watch the game from the sidelines after announcing her international retirement in January.
All three players deserved Tuesday’s celebrations, having played a total of 672 matches for Canada as seniors.
For Sinclair, attention is embarrassing if it is appreciated. The 40-year-old from Burnaby, British Columbia, and all-time leading international scorer with 190 goals, prefers to talk on the field.
Soccer Canada says Sinclair will speak at a press conference on Sunday, along with Schmidt. The captain was not made available on Thursday, ahead of the first match against Australia, but her imminent retirement was the main topic of conversation.
Canada coach Bev Priestman, who told her players at the start of camp that they had to embrace the emotion of the moment, says there has been a “lightness” around Sinclair.
“She had this freedom,” Priestman said. I feel like she’s enjoying every moment… But (the emotion) is real, it’s there and it’s probably going to get more real as this camp continues. »
Sinclair, who started 312 of her 329 senior matches for Canada, acted as a substitute in October’s friendlies against Brazil. However, she will begin her farewell match on Tuesday, in front of a crowd of more than 41,000 spectators, including former teammates, friends and family members, present at the Vancouver match.
“B.C. Place is Sinc’s night…Obviously, it’s the night you would expect to see the captain lead this team one last time,” Priestman said .
Forward Janine Beckie, in camp while recovering from a knee injury, said the team feels “a mixture of happiness and sadness” for Sinclair “because we all know she’s ready and that she is ready for this moment to come and that she has prepared herself.”
Unlike others, Beckie will get one more season with Sinclair with the Portland Thorns in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL).
Forward Nichelle Prince noted that the team, knowing its captain, was careful to pay special attention to Sinclair before the games in British Columbia.
“We’re just trying to focus on the games, but we all know it’s more for Sinc than anything else,” she said.
Jayde Rivière calls this moment “bittersweet.”
“I think our team has come to the conclusion that none of us are ready to see her go. But we are enjoying the last days we have with her, said the 22-year-old Manchester United defender. It’s a legend. She’s the best ever, like everyone says. And to us, she is Sincy. She is much more than what you see on the field. She’s a role model for us off the field, so it’s going to be really hard to see her go. »
Simi Awujo, a 20-year-old midfielder with the University of Southern California Trojans, is also trying to make sense of the Canadian team without Sinclair.
“I can’t imagine it because she’s so present on the pitch. And off the field too. I feel lucky to have played with her. And to be able to call her my teammate,” Awujo concluded.