Suttonsave

Goalkeeper Greg Sutton credits his athleticism to the interest he had in various sports as a child. ((Victor Decolongon/Getty Images))

A strong support system is a fundamental ingredient to a successful soccer career.

For Toronto FC goalkeeper Greg Sutton, that statement couldn't be truer. 

He recently told CBCSports.ca that all parents play an integral part of a child's life, "but at a sports level, giving kids an opportunity to participate in the sports they're enjoying is so important."

Now in his 10th professional season, the 32 year-old Hamilton, Ont., resident recalled his ambition for soccer, which he said developed because he enjoyed the game and had fun playing it.

"I just enjoyed playing and I had a good group of guys that I grew up with over the years," Sutton said.

Looking back on his childhood soccer development, he said, it progressed to the point where he thought he was "doing OK" and considered accepting a university scholarship.

He credits his interest in other sports such as baseball, basketball, golf and hockey for helping him become the soccer player he is today.

"Athleticism is an important factor for me and it was developed through playing all those sports," Sutton said. His motivation for pursuing various sports was "the opportunity to develop relationships."

Sutton's soccer ability helped him land a position on a strong team in Toronto, which has also made him a respected role model in the community. Being a role model is something he really enjoys, he said.

"It's important for us [professionals] to share our experiences with the kids," Sutton said. "It's a privilege and an honour."

Professional soccer has taught him the highs and lows players encounter, but he said he wants to remain on an even keel at all times.

"There will be times when you'll be disappointed, but it's going to make you stronger," Sutton said.

"When the enjoyment's gone the drive will disappear and you'll realize that it's not for you."

He acknowledged the importance of recognizing and "enjoying the times when you have success and to cherish the moments."

Sutton's role as backup goalkeeper and mentor to rookie Stefan Frei is just fine with him.

But that doesn't mean the Toronto FC veteran is getting comfortable with the position.

"There's still a lot for me to give to this game," Sutton explained.

Although critics may doubt his ability to win back the starting position, Sutton said he's not sure he's reached his full potential and he believes there's still areas to improve in his game.

Sutton and Toronto FC continue to battle in the MLS standings after opening their season with four wins, four losses and four draws. The team will play the Vancouver Whitecaps in the second and final game of the Canadian championship final on June 18.