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Whirlwind continues for Christine Sinclair in wake of world goal-scoring record


EDINBURG, Texas — The whirlwind continued for Christine Sinclair a day after becoming the world's all-time leading goal-scorer.

In the wake of notching goals No. 184 and 185 in an 11-0 romp over St. Kitts and Nevis on Wednesday at the CONCACAF Women's Olympic Qualifying Championship, the Canada captain left H-E-B Park holding a box containing a pair of bespoke pair of Nike PhantomVNM boots commemorating her milestone night.

The red boots features her No. 12 jersey number, a Canadian flag, a quote from her late University of Portland coach Clive Charles ("You better earn your right to play”) and two nicknames (Sinc and Wonder) among other special touches.

Sinclair said Thursday that equipment manager Maeve Glass had been carrying them around for the last couple of months in anticipation. 

"They're pretty sick. I'll probably be wearing them the next couple of games," she said with a laugh.

Back at the hotel, the 36-year-old from Burnaby B.C., was greeted by a congratulatory video supervised by midfielder Sophie Schmidt featuring friends and former college, club and Canada teammates. Robyn Gayle, a former teammate now on the Canadian team staff, decorated a room with photos documenting her career.

"It was very embarrassing but very special," said Sinclair.

As one might expect, her phone blew up. But she made just two calls, both to her family.

"I hope people understand that I'll slowly get back to them over the course of the next couple of days because it's been a lot, it's been overwhelming."

Then there was a wave of interviews Thursday. Sinclair, while no fan of the limelight, was a trooper.

"I'm not going to lie. To have broken the record is a weight off my shoulders," she said. "Now I can just actually go out and enjoy it and help Canada qualify for the Olympics, because that's the true focus, now that that goal thing is out of the way."

Sinclair's brace moved her past retired American Abby Wambach, who had held the mark of 184 goals. And while the Canadian skipper is as humble as they come, she is savouring seeing a Maple Leaf atop the all-time goals list.

"I'm a proud Canadian. I'm proud a Canadian's on top of the list, I'm not going to lie," she said.

"To have a Canadian on top of the list in a so-called hockey country, is pretty cool," she added.

Sinclair also noted the growth of the game in Canada and the support the program has received over the years.

"This environment has never been the most comfortable for me," she said, waving at the cameras around her. "But at the same time I'm proud to represent women's soccer. I'm proud that people care.

"When I first joined the national team, my first World Cup (in 2003) I don't even think people knew it was happening (back) in Canada. To see the change in that has been remarkable. And it's only going to get bigger and better. Knowing that I've been a small part of that is pretty special."

Asked what she has to say to kids looking up to her, Sinclair said: "Aim higher. Follow your crazy dreams. For me it happened to be soccer, it happened to be sports. To this day I mean I don't think I've worked a day in my life. When you're so passionate about what you do, you're willing to put in the extra work.

"Myself, my teammates, we're proof that those dreams sometimes do come true."

In the wake of her record-breaking performance, Sinclair drew the attention of FIFA president Gianni Infantino. In a letter to Sinclair released by FIFA, Infantino offered his "warmest congratulations on this historical and exceptional accomplishment."

"This achievement rewards your outstanding 20-year career at the highest level, which could only be achieved thanks to your tremendous commitment, exemplary motivation, hard work and incredible passion for our beautiful game," he wrote. "Your human qualities and skills, not to mention your remarkable contribution to the popularity and growth of women's football, or soccer, deserve our admiration."

The FIFA boss noted Sinclair had made 290 appearances for Canada, appearing in five FIFA Women's World Cups and three Olympics.

"Congratulations again, dear Christine, and thank you for helping convey the positive message of football, promoting its image and benefits and being a wonderful example and role model for all those wishing to forge a career in football," he added.

CONCACAF president Victor Montagliani, Canada Soccer president Steven Reed and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau were among those who also sent congratulations after the game via social media. As did Wambach and fellow American Mia Hamm, who held the goals record at 158 until Wambach passed her in 2013.

Sinclair's Twitter feed had passed the 100,000 mark by Thursday evening.

Sinclair's goal haul is more than Cristiano Ronaldo (99) and Pele (77) combined. Ali Daei leads the men's international goal list with 109 in 149 appearances for Iran between 1993 and 2006.

Dwayne De Rosario tops Canadian men in scoring with 22 goals in 81 games, although 20-year-old Jonathan David is making waves with 11 goals in just 12 appearances. 

Having thumped the Sugar Girlz to open the tournament, Canada now faces the Reggae Girlz of Jamaica on Saturday. No. 51 Jamaica lost 1-0 to No. 26 Mexico on Wednesday.

Canada is 7-0-0 all-time against the Jamaicans with a 48-1 edge in scoring. Sinclair has accounted for 11 of those goals.

The Canadian women reviewed the St. Kitts win in a meeting with Sinclair saying coach Kenneth Heiner-Moller had offered her congratulations "for the last time."

"I think once I probably walk out of this room, it will be time to move on an focus on the upcoming games," Sinclair said. "And then probably revisit this when the tournament is over and I get to spend some time with my family back home and let it sink in."


This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 30, 2020.


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Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press