Christine Sinclair Plays Her Final International Soccer Game for Canada
Canada's Christine Sinclair soaks in the love during the final international match of her stellar career — against Australia — in Vancouver on December 5, 2023. Photo: Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press
Canadian fans packed Vancouver’s B.C. Place stadium — temporarily renamed Christine Sinclair Place — Tuesday night to wave a fond farewell to soccer legend Christine Sinclair, who was playing the final international match of her stellar career.
One of the greatest female soccer players ever, the 40-year-old from Burnaby, B.C., made 331 appearances for Canada’s senior squad, which she also captained, and scored a record 130 goals.
After the highly emotional game, Sinclair explained to reporters what she felt her legacy would be: “I’ve done everything I can on this national team. I am 100 per cent satisfied and content, and to go out with a win in front of my friends, in front of my family, honestly it’s been the perfect night.”
Canadian celebrities, athletes and politicians all took to social media to express their congratulations to Sinclair for her marvellous career. “Your impact on the game, and on sports in Canada, is something we’ll be celebrating for quite some time,” tweeted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
The actual game itself — a friendly against Australia which Canada won 1-0 — was largely irrelevant. The crowd of over 45,000 was there to honour a great athlete and role model who continued to excel even as an older athlete.
Playing for her country since the age of 16, Sinclair quickly established herself as a marketable star, despite the fact she played a sport that had little exposure. Her on-field exploits made her a global star: Sinclair played for Canada in six World Cups, leading the country to an Olympic gold medal in the 2020 summer games in Tokyo.
But it was her off-field work building the women’s game that contributed so much to her global reputation. In a letter to her 16-year-old self published when she announced her retirement, Sinclair wrote of the larger role she played: “You will inspire generations of young girls to kick a soccer ball for the first time with real dreams of playing professionally. And you better believe we will continue to fight for what’s right. For equality for past, present and future generations.”
The crowd rose in the 12th minute to applaud the great athlete (who wears No. 12) and roared even louder when she was replaced in the 58th minute. Teammates embraced her as she left the playing field for the final time in her career.
Although she is looking to enjoy an off-season from the physically demanding sport, she still plays for the Portland Thorns of the National Women’s Soccer League and made it known in a cheeky post-script in her retirement letter that she would like to play one more year with the team before she hangs up her boots for good.