On behalf of Canadian soccer fans, thank you Sinc

Canadian professional soccer player Christine Sinclair announces the end of her 23-year international career

Graphic Myriam Ouazzani

Canadians dreamed Christine Sinclair would be captain of their women’s soccer team forever, however, the team is losing a talented forward who played a pivotal role in developing the Canadian women's soccer program.

On Oct. 20, Sinclair announced via Instagram that she would retire from international soccer at the end of 2023. 

“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 said. “We are not here without them. Here I am in the 90th minute of our journey.”

She leaves the national team as the world’s all-time leader in goals scored by any player (male, female, non-binary or genderqueer) with 190. Sinclair is also one of the most capped active international soccer players with over 300 international appearances.

It is incredible that a Canadian woman is the all-time leader in international goals. To highlight the accomplishment’s significance, Christiano Ronaldo’s 127 all-time goals—the most by a male footballer internationally all-time— is more than 60 goals shy of Sinclair’s sum.

Team Canada’s captain holds a special place in my heart; she was my idol growing up. Ever since I started playing soccer at seven years old, Sinclair’s presence on the world’s biggest stage made me believe it was possible to pursue a career in soccer as a woman.

When I was younger, I struggled with the feeling that I did not belong in soccer. Kids would criticize me for playing a sport they believed was for boys. When I watched Sinclair play, however, I felt accepted as a soccer player. She is a prime example that women can play soccer—and even perform better than men. 

If it weren’t for the confidence she instilled in me, I don’t think I would be playing varsity soccer today. 

At 16 years old, Sinclair was already playing for the Canadian national team– getting her start at the 2000 Algarve Cup. She was the leading scorer of the tournament with three goals, despite Canada’s fifth-place finish.

Sinclair played in six FIFA Women’s World Cups from 2003 to 2023. In 2015, she led Canada to its best result, a quarter-final appearance. She also led Canada to their historic gold medal finish in the 2020 Summer Olympics and two bronze medals in 2012 and 2016.

I had the privilege of watching Sinclair play against New Zealand in Ottawa on Oct. 23, 2021, during their Celebration Tour to share their 2020 Olympic gold with fans. Sinclair added a goal to her team's 5-1 victory. The unique experience of watching the GOAT play live is a memory I will cherish forever.

Sinclair had a massive presence on and off the field for Canada. She and her teammates stood up to the Canadian Soccer Association to push for an equal pay agreement for the national team They reached an interim compensation deal, and later helped announce the arrival of a domestic professional women’s soccer league in Canada–of which she is an official advisor.

Next year, after leaving the national team, she plans to play one last season in the National Women’s Soccer League for the Portland Thorns. Sinclair will play her last two games with the national team on Dec. 1 at Langford’s Starlight Stadium and Dec. 5 in her home province at Vancouver’s B.C. Place Stadium.

Sinclair will be remembered as the best player in the history of soccer, not only in the eyes of Canadians but especially in those of girls like myself who grew up watching her play.