January 29, 2020 is a day that will go down in soccer history, not just for Canadian soccer, but for women’s soccer around the world.
That day, Christine Sinclair did what she has done for the better part of the past 20 years. She scored a goal. The goal she scored that day was different though, because it etched her name in the history books, ahead of every soccer player, male or female, to ever kick a ball.
On that day, in an Olympic qualifier against Saint Kitts and Nevis, Sinclair scored her 185th career international goal and became the all-time international goalscorer, male or female, surpassing U.S Women’s national team legend Abby Wambach in the process.
“Hopefully I’m an example for others, especially younger kids. Show them what’s possible when you dream those crazy dreams and put in the work,” Sinclair said after breaking the record. “But most of all, I just try to be a good Canadian day after day.”
An out-and-out striker by nature, the Canadian international is as clinical as they come in the penalty area. Equally capable of finishing with either foot or her head, Sinclair is truly versatile scoring threat, but it’s not only her ability to finish that separates her from the rest.
Sinclair has demonstrated an uncanny ability to be at the right place at the right time, highlighting her predatory instinct. Her movement has only improved over the years, allowing her to keep scoring even 20 years after her professional debut.
The Portland Thorns striker diversified her game as her career progressed and has since established herself a creative outlet as well. Dropping deeper with and without possession, Sinclair looks to create in pockets of spaces and offer more than just goals.
Sinclair’s impact, however, goes well beyond the pitch. The Canadian legend has inspired many young Canadian soccer players and has demonstrated what true leadership looks like.
“I think she's a perfect leader for us and for this nation,” said the now-retired Canadian Women’s national team goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc.
Sinclair’s national team career began more than 20 years ago when she debuted in the Algarve Cup as a 16-year-old. She took the tournament by storm and finished as the leading goalscorer with three goals. In many ways, her impressive exploits served as a sign of what was to come.
In 2002, the 36-year-old announced herself on the world stage leading Canada to a second-place finish at the U-20 World Cup in Edmonton. Sinclair finished the tournament with ten goals, including a five-goal performance against England.
Sinclair has since represented her nation 296 times and is currently the most-capped active footballer. Having led Canada into five different World Cups, the legendary striker has undoubtedly become the face of the national team. In 2013, Sinclair was inducted in Canada’s Walk of Fame, and she was recently named Canadian Player of the Decade, not that there was ever any doubt.
The 2020 Tokyo Olympics were could have marked her final tournament for Canada, but with the Olympics now moved to 2021, we could be at least another year away from the end of Sinclair’s record-setting career. Whenever she does decide to hang up her boots, Sinclair will leave the game having set a new standard for international soccer, with the goal she scored on January 29, 2020 setting a new bar for all soccer players around the world.