Atiba Hutchinson voted Canada Soccer’s male player of the year


Canadian player Atiba Hutchinson. (Salvador Melendez/AP)

OTTAWA — Atiba Hutchinson now has bragging rights over former teammate Dwayne De Rosario.

The 33-year-old midfielder was named Canada Soccer’s top male player Friday for the third straight year and record fifth time, surpassing De Rosario, a four-time winner. Hutchinson also won in 2010 and 2012 and ties De Rosario (2005-07) with three consecutive titles.

"For me to win it the first time was something very special," Hutchinson said during a conference call. "The fifth time was just as special as the first, maybe a little bit more because I’m the only one to have done it now.

"Dwayne De Rosario was a very talented player, I played alongside him and learned a lot from him as a young player growing up. i have nothing but respect for him so I’d like to say thanks to Dwayne."

Hutchinson earned the award in voting conducted by Canadian media and coaches. The finalists were Cyle Larin, Milan Borjan, Patrice Bernier, Jonathan Osorio and Junior Hoilett.

On Thursday, Christine Sinclair was named Canada Soccer’s female player of the year for the 13th time in 17 years.

The six-foot-two, 183-pound Hutchinson, a Toronto native who grew up in Brampton, Ont., helped lift Besiktas to its first Turkish Super Lig title in seven years and a spot in the 2016-17 UEFA Champions League season. He wore the captain’s armband in home draws against Dynamo Kyiv and SSC Napoli.

"To win a championship in this country, in Turkey, is very special," Hutchinson said. "That’s a great memory that I’ll have for the rest of my life."

The veteran midfielder also made four appearances with the men’s national team in 2016. That included a 3-0 World Cup qualifier loss to Mexico in March before a Canadian record 54,798 fans at B.C. Place Stadium.

It was the largest crowd for a national team event of any sport ever held in Canada.

"Atiba consistently makes valuable contributions at the international, European, and domestic levels of play," said Canadian interim head coach Michael Findlay. "These performances have once again positioned him as a much deserved recipient of (the award). "

Hutchinson has been a member of the national senior men’s team since 2003 and said he’ll take some time to ponder his future with the program.

"I’ve spoken to (Findlay) and I just told him I needed some time to think about what I’d like to do for the future," he said. "It’s just important for me to do the right thing and make the right choice thinking about the program as a whole.

"I’ll take some time … . probably over the next month or two and have a little bit of a clearer mind."

Canada will face Bermuda in an exhibition match on Jan. 22 in Hamilton, Bermuda. The contest will kick off the Canadian squad’s 2017 season, which will include the CONCACAF Gold Cup in July.

The squad will gather Jan. 12 to begin preparing for the match. However, team officials weren’t expecting to call on Hutchinson, who’s been with the national senior squad since 2003, to play because the contest isn’t in the FIFA window.

Next month’s camp will encompass mostly North American-based players entering their pre-seasons. Those invited to participate will be announced in early January.

The game will be the ninth between Canada and Bermuda dating back to 1968. The Canadians are 4-0-4 in the series and earned a 3-0 win in their last meeting in March 2007.

Canada’s record in 24 international matches over the last two years is 9-8-7.

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