Canada has not endured the greatest footballing history having only qualified for one FIFA World Cup in Mexico in 1986 prior to this year’s showpiece event in Qatar.
Canada seems to be undergoing somewhat of a golden generation with stars from the likes of Bayern Munich, FC Porto, and LOSC Lille among the ranks. They even have a star that played a huge part in a UEFA Champions League win with Bayern who will be vital as they head into their second-ever World Cup.
Canada’s World Cup hopes
Les Rouges are not expected to reach the knockout stages at the World Cup but it is a big achievement in itself to make it to the tournament. According to outright odds, for those sports betting in Ontario, Canada is currently offered at odds of +900 to qualify from Group F. Canada will face Belgium, Croatia, and Morocco in their group fixtures.
Gambling.com has a host of reviews on its site based on a range of sportsbooks to outline which sites have the best offers, odds, and sign-up bonuses this World Cup year. But in terms of the footballing history of the CONCACAF nation, who were the greatest players ever, and are any of those players still active in the game?
Julian de Guzman
Julian de Guzman is a legendary player in Canadian footballing history as he is one of the highest cap holders for the Maple Leafs. De Guzman enjoyed a lengthy career in Europe and North America and was even the first Canadian to play in the Spanish La Liga when he joined Deportivo La Coruna where he was named their player of the season in 2007/08. His time in Spain was arguably the highlight of his career as he competed against incredibly strong FC Barcelona and Real Madrid sides in the late 2000s.
He also had spells in Germany with Hannover 96 most notably in the early stages of his career where he first established himself as an impressive creative player as well as being incredibly hardworking. At an international level, he was awarded the CONCACAF Gold Cup Most Valuable Player in 2007 as he impressed for Canada including scoring twice in the opening match to earn victory over Costa Rica.
De Guzman was certainly one of Canada’s most impressive players in a period in which they failed to qualify for a World Cup but a former teammate of his, who is still playing has led his nation to finally return to the biggest international stage.
At the age of 39 Hutchinson is set to lead his nation into their second-ever World Cup and he is the only member of the squad that was alive the last time they played in the tournament back in 1986. He was a key part of Canada’s impressive qualifying run to top the CONCACAF section ahead of the likes of the United States and Mexico.
— OptaJack⚽️ (@OptaJack) November 13, 2022
He is Canada’s record appearance holder having now played 97 games and he will hopefully reach 100 caps in Qatar. He has managed nine goals in his time with the international team which is a respectable effort considering his defensive midfield role.
Hutchinson played alongside De Guzman at the youth international level before going on to play at the senior level together and both are seen as the greatest players to emerge from Canada in the 2000s. The midfielder is somewhat of a statistical anomaly in relation to the fact that he still plays at an impressive level and maintains a strong level of fitness despite being almost into his 40s.
In terms of his club career, he has spent time at a variety of clubs across Europe. He spent four years at FC Copenhagen where his coach stated his talents were far too impressive to be solely utilized in a defensive role and in his final year before leaving for PSV Eindhoven he was awarded the Danish Superliga player of the year.
Hutchinson was also selected in Copenhagen’s all-time greatest eleven back in 2014 as voted by fans of the club and remains a legend in Scandinavia. At PSV his form did not slow down as he was incredibly consistent amongst a number of seasons and linked up with huge stars such as Mark van Bommel and Dries Mertens in Eindhoven. He played in several European campaigns before eventually leaving the Netherlands after allowing his contract to run out and with rumors of Premier League clubs being interested in his services it was a surprise when he joined Besiktas.
But in the Super Lig he again maintained a solid level in yet another European nation and again starred in high-caliber European games including against Arsenal in which his performance earned him the plaudits of Arsene Wenger for his tenacity off the ball and ability to drive forward in possession.
Craig Forrest is a huge figure in Canadian footballing history having sent the Maple Leafs to the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 2000 and proceeding to concede just three goals at the tournament as Canada went all of the way to become champions. He was inducted into the Canada Soccer hall of fame in 2007 before being introduced into the sports hall of fame in 2015 and is firmly in Canadian sports folklore, not just soccer history.
His club career was also hugely impressive, which was spent entirely in England mainly with Ipswich Town as he appeared 263 times and was named the clubs player of the year in 1994/95. He played in the inaugural season of the newly established Premier League and was one of a small few foreign players to star in the opening round of fixtures.
Forrest also went on loan to Chelsea in 1997 as he played behind the likes of Gianfranco Zola and was coached by the legendary Ruud Gullit. The West London side wished to make his move permanent after his strong performances which was a huge indicator of his quality as praise from Gullit should not be taken lightly, but Ipswich refused to sanction the move.
🧤 Craig Forrest pic.twitter.com/gxVJTByji4
— Premier League (@premierleague) March 9, 2021
And in that same summer, he joined West Ham for a fee of $500,000 where he would end an impressive career. Forrest is by far the greatest goalkeeper in Canadian history, and has a genuine claim to possibly being the nation’s greatest player of all, as few can claim to have been a major player in a tournament victory.
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