World Cup fans cheer on Leamington, Ont., player, despite a defeat

There's a lot of pride for Team Canada in southwestern Ontario, despite another loss at the World Cup on Sunday. Local fans have been eagerly cheering on Leamington-born player Stephen Eustáquio.

Canada's Stephen Eustáquio is inspiring young players in southwestern Ontario

Canada's Stephen Eustáquio stands his ground against Belgium's Axel Witsel in their World Cup opener on Wednesday. (AFP via Getty Images)

Despite another loss at the World Cup on Sunday, fans in southwestern Ontario have been excited to cheer on the players — especially a midfielder with roots in Leamington. 

It was a bittersweet moment for Canada on Sunday in Qatar in the game against Croatia.

Alphonso Davies ended up in the history books, scoring Canada's first goal in World Cup history. The team would go on to lose 4-1.

That has not put a dent in the local pride felt for Leamington-born Stephen Eustáquio, who has been delighting his hometown. 

"The pride factor is immense right now. To be Canadian and involved in the soccer scene, not just Leamington, but anywhere in Canada," said Dan Santos, founder and president of the Leamington SC United Soccer Club.

"It's a big moment now and going forward for the next few years."

WATCH | Canada makes history at the World Cup: 

Alphonso Davies makes history with first Canada Soccer goal at a Men's World Cup

4 months ago
Duration 2:39
Host Andi Petrillo is joined by former Canadian men's international player Jimmy Brennan to break down the historic first goal scored by Alphonso Davies at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Santos said the local club has been cheering on the whole team, and especially Eustáquio. It created a video on social media, showing its support. 

Canada has lost to Belgium and Croatia, so it's already known the team won't move on to group play at the tournament.

The final action for Eustáquio and his teammates will be Thursday, against Morocco.

"Him and his family alone, just exceptional people," said Carlos Soares, head of club player development in for Leamington SC and a friend of the Eustáquio family.

"We grew up, through friends of the family basically, we share the same relatives, so I still remember them when they were here, and then just basically been following Stephen's journey ever since he started playing football. Family is incredible, and it's honestly not a surprise."

Canadian forward Alphonso Davies celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against Croatia during the first half of a group stage match against Croatia during the 2022 World Cup at Khalifa International Stadium. Davies lived in Windsor, Ont., for about a year. (Yukihito Taguchi/USA TODAY Sports)

Soares said he remembers  Eustáquio's dedication to his sport, practising and training on family vacations as a young teen. 

Now, Soares is enjoying watching his successes. 

"I cannot even begin to explain the emotions that run though your body," he said. "It's nothing but pride, I'm so proud of the team."

Davies lived in Windsor for a year when his family arrived in Canada from Africa.

Soares and Santos said the hometown connections are inspiring their young players. 

Watch Soccer North live immediately following each of Canada's games on CBC and the CBC Sports YouTube channel

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