Oct 26 (Reuters) – Canada’s Christine Sinclair never backed down from pressure-packed situations throughout her illustrious career but admitted on Thursday that she was looking forward to a stress-free end to her international career over the coming weeks.
With nothing left to prove on the pitch and no tournaments to prepare for, the world’s all-time leading international goalscorer is set for a victory lap of sorts in Canada over the next six weeks.
First up for Sinclair are games against Brazil on Saturday in Montreal and Oct. 31 in Halifax followed by another two-match friendly series against Australia on Dec. 1 and 5 in British Columbia.
“Just trying to soak it all in,” Sinclair said in her first official press conference since she announced her retirement last week.
“Players have asked what’s it like to come and play with no stress because I am not trying to make a team, I’m not trying to make a roster or a lineup.
“It’s freeing to just kind of come back to my roots and play for the love of it and enjoy the time with my team mates and it’s a unique opportunity to get to play games at home.”
The 40-year-old Sinclair’s international career includes a record 190 goals for Canada in 327 games, an Olympic gold medal and six World Cup appearances.
When Canada’s World Cup hopes ended in the group stage after a thrashing by hosts Australia in July Sinclair knew she did not want her international career to end on that note.
Sinclair, who made her debut with the senior national team as a 16-year-old, kept going and in September came off the bench in the second leg of a 4-1 aggregate win over Jamaica to help Canada clinch a spot at next year’s Paris Olympics.
“I thought that was going to be it, I was going to walk off and not say a word and just be done,” said Sinclair.
“But then there were rumours of four games being played in Canada and my friends and family convinced me you can’t just leave, you owe it to yourself and you owe it to Canada to come out and play these games.”
Sinclair still plans to play for Portland Thorns in the National Women’s Soccer League next season and after that expects to remain involved with the game in some capacity.
“This game has been my life since I was four,” said Sinclair. “I plan to play another year in Portland hopefully and we’ll go from there.
“Whether it’s coaching, whether it’s behind the scenes, yeah, I’m not leaving.”
Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Ken Ferris
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