‘I can only pick one?’: Teammates share best Christine Sinclair moments

Christine Sinclair sits down with Sportsnet’s Stephen Brunt ahead of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup to reflect on the evolution of the Canadian program during her time and the chance to make goal-scoring history in France.

Christine Sinclair has always been prolific on the pitch, but when it comes to talking about herself… well, the biggest star in the history of Canadian soccer would rather let her play do the talking.

So, we’ve spared her. For now.

With the 35-year-old heading into what could be her last World Cup, and just four goals short of owning the record as the all-time leading scorer in international women’s soccer, we asked a few of her Canadian teammates — past and present — for their top Sinclair moment of all-time.

This wasn’t easy, either. Ask anyone who’s spent any time around Sinclair, and the reaction is uniform: You can’t pick just one moment as the defining, favourite Sinclair moment. But they did their best.

Allysha Chapman, defender and Team Canada teammate:

Wow, there are a lot. I have to give you two. I was watching the 2012 Olympics from home. I thought that three-goal performance against the U.S. [in the semifinals] was the best performance out of a Canadian athlete, ever. I think she rose to the biggest stage in that tournament and she absolutely destroyed that game. That was the one not knowing her, just watching.

Now that I know her, I’d say what stands out came after our loss against Germany in the [2016 Olympic] semifinals, the way she got the team back together and got us focused for the bronze-medal match. It was a lot more poetic than I’m about to say, but she said, ‘Our tournament’s not over yet, we need to refocus, we’re going to smash Brazil, in Brazil.’ It was really poignant. When Sinc speaks, you listen. Obviously. [Laughs.]

Sophie Schmidt, midfielder and long-time teammate:

One of the big ones was the London Olympic Games, the U.S. game, just her on-field performance. I know we didn’t win that game, but she carried our team. There’s been multiple moments like that, but what makes this one stand out is what she did off the field, that game, afterwards. We were completely gutted. Because she’s not a very outspoken leader, she leads by example, in that moment when there’s nothing to say, she said the right thing and it picked our team back up. I’m getting emotional just thinking about it.

It’s moments like that where her character shines through. It wasn’t even very long, I think it was five sentences or three sentences, telling us we weren’t done yet. It was very impactful, the timing, the delivery. She has that instinctive leadership.

Jordyn Huitema, fellow forward and teammate:

I can only pick one? Oh, wow. When I first stepped on the field with her, she made the game so much easier. She has this vision that you can’t teach. She’s so smart and so precise with every movement, she makes it so much easier for everyone around her. I noticed that coming in when I was a kid [Huitema was 14 when she first attended her first senior Canadian team camp; she’s now 18]. She was very composed, so it made me more composed, it felt like I was more comfortable because I had someone beside me who really was very comfortable. It just made it very easy.

It’s hard to pick a moment because there are so many when it comes to her. It’s just in general, the way she’s able to put one in the net at the most important moments for Canada. When things aren’t going right you know she’ll be there to put one in the back of the net for Canada. How many people can you depend on that way?

Kaylyn Kyle, former Team Canada midfielder and teammate:

I grew up with a Christine Sinclair and Carmelina Moscato poster on my bedroom wall, which is embarrassing to say now that I’m friends with them. [Laughs]. The moment that sticks out for me is definitely 2011, at the Women’s World Cup. I started the first match in Germany against Germany, we were the first match of that tournament. I remember lining up in the tunnel and it was shaking, the fans were going crazy and I was so nervous — and Sinc knew. She walked by me and put her hand on my shoulder and she said, ‘Everything’s going to be OK, just breathe.’ I felt weight off my shoulders and that was the moment where I was like, ‘OK, I’m here for a reason. I have teammates that trust me and believe in me — I mean, the world’s best player believes in me.’ That’s something that’s stuck with me since that moment. She’s an incredible player but more importantly a good person and human.

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