Canadian soccer legend Atiba Hutchinson took off his team Canada jersey for the final time after Sunday’s 0-2 loss to the United States.
After rumours swirled for the past few weeks, Hutchinson officially announced this would be his final game on Thursday following Canada’s previous game in a 2-0 semifinal victory over Panama.
“This is going to be my last kick at it,” he said at a press conference.
“It’s been 20 years of representing Canada. I’ve enjoyed all of it, every single moment of it,” Hutchinson added. “Together with the boys and playing the games we’ve played, travelling to so many different countries… It’s been a great journey for me.”
The 40-year-old midfielder finishes his career with a record of six male Canadian Player of the Year awards. However, this isn’t the only record he set in his illustrious career.
Hutchinson has also played in a record 104 international contests, including an appearance at this year’s World Cup in Qatar. This gave him the honour of being the most-capped Canadian soccer player of all time.
Before Canada’s appearance in that World Cup, Canadian head coach John Herdman called Hutchinson the gold standard of Canadian players in the men’s game.
“He’s the leader,” Herdman said. “He embodies, I think, everything that this country’s about.”
Hutchinson is a Brampton native who began playing soccer at the age of four for the Brampton Youth Soccer Club. After becoming a name in Canadian soccer circles, he began his professional career in 2002 playing for the York Region Shooters.
He started his Team Canadian international career in 2003 at the age of 19, playing in a friendly match against the United States. In the same year, he appeared with Team Canada in the 2003 CONCACAF Gold Cup, helping lead the Canadians to their first win of the tournament over Costa Rica.
However, this was just the start of a storybook career for Hutchinson. After starting in Toronto, his professional career saw him play for clubs around the world, from FC Copenhagen to Besiktas JK in Turkey’s Super Lig.
He had already announced his retirement from Besiktas in a social media post this week.
“Thank you Besiktas, forever in my heart,” he said.
According to Brampton youth soccer coach Bradley Power, Hutchinson’s impact on Canadian soccer is undeniable.
“For him to come from a city like this and do what he’s done, I can’t think of a better representative for Canadian soccer,” Power said. “You expect kids to want to be like Messi or Ronaldo, but now I hear my players say they want to be like Alphonso Davies and Atiba Hutchinson.
“It just goes to show that Canadian soccer is in a better place than ever, and it’s because of players like him.”