20.10.2023 19:55 h

Record international scorer Sinclair retiring from Canada team

Canada striker Christine Sinclair, the all-time leading international scorer, announced on Friday she was retiring from the national team after a 23-year career.

"Here I am preparing to tie the bow on an unbelievable international career shared with so many incredible teammates, coaches, support staff, fans and of course family," she wrote in a letter to her 16-year-old self published in Toronto newspaper the Globe and Mail. "Here I am in the 90th minute of our journey."

The letter followed a video she posted on Instagram the night before showing a pair of boots laced together and hanging from a crossbar accompanied by an image of a maple leaf.

The 40-year-old Sinclair, who plays for the Portland Thorns in the National Women's Soccer League, indicated she was not prepared to retire entirely.

"P.S. - Portland, how about one more year?" she wrote at the end.

Sinclair, who made her senior international debut in 2000, played 327 games for Canada scoring 190 goals.

The men's record for goals is 127 by Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo.

Canada Soccer said 'Captain Everything' would add to her caps total before retiring. Canada play Brazil twice, first in Montreal on October 28 and then in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on October 31.

Sinclair competed in six World Cups and four times at the Olympics, winning a gold medal in the Tokyo Games in 2021.

She came off the bench for 35 minutes in the second leg of a 4-1 aggregate victory over Jamaica last month to ensure Canada qualified for the 2024 Paris Games.

"After Tokyo, deep down inside, I knew I didn't want to play in Paris," she told Canadian media. "The way the Tokyo Olympics ended, you can't beat it.

"I wanted to give it one more shot for the World Cup, just because I really thought we could be successful there and we hadn't been successful in a long time at World Cups."

In July, Canada went out in the group stage at the World Cup in Australia.

"I can sit here and know that I've literally done everything I can and given all of me to this national team since I was 16 years old," she told The Canadian Press. "I have zero regrets. I know I've done everything I can for as long as I can. And the team's in good hands moving forward."

In her letter, Sinclair stressed that the success had been tainted by the long battle for better pay for women players.

"If you will become the most prolific goal scorer of all-time and win an Olympic gold medal, then things must go smoothly, right? Well, pretty soon you'll discover things aren't so rosy behind the scenes."

"You'll learn Canadian women's national team players were playing for $10 a day. You'll hear the prize money for the Women's World Cup is going to increase, only for the men's prize money to increase by more, widening the pay gap."

She added that she was proud of her choice to "fight back".

"While people will know you for your accomplishments on the pitch, they will remember you for how you transcended the painted white lines. Creating equity is what you will be most proud of."

After taking strike action at the start of 2023, Canadian women players won a historic agreement establishing pay parity with the men's team in March.

Originally from Burnaby in British Columbia, she concluded: "I suppose it will be fitting to end this thing the same way it started - with some tears, playing the game we love on some field in Vancouver. Home."