Christine Sinclair gets heartfelt praise from Canadian soccer boss
'She's just an unbelievable person and we're so privileged to have her'
By Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press
Canada's top soccer official paid tribute to captain Christine Sinclair in the wake of the Canadian women's Olympic bronze medal.
The 33-year-old forward from Burnaby, B.C., scored the winning goal in Canada's 2-1 victory Friday over Brazil at the Corinthians Arena.
Asked afterwards about Sinclair's contribution to Canadian soccer, Victor Montagliani choked back his emotion.
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"It's tough even answering that because I've known Christine a long time," said the outgoing president of the Canadian Soccer Association and East Vancouver native. "I know her family. We come from the same neck of the woods. I played against her uncles, or better yet her uncles kicked the [crap] out of me on the pitch. But a great family.
"I get emotional because I'm not talking about the footballer, I think that's pretty obvious. [Friday] was her 250th cap, which is unbelievable. But for me, it's more her as a person and what she represents and what she means to Canada and what she means to us. She's just an unbelievable person and really that's Christine Sinclair.
"When you say Christine Sinclair to me, it's not the X amount of goals and the caps, performing under pressure and always coming through. Those are the obvious things. But to me, when I say Christine Sinclair it's the woman that she is, the friend that she is to everyone.
"She's just an unbelievable person and we're so privileged to have her as part of our Canadian soccer family. To be quite honest, we're so privileged to have her as a Canadian. She's just one of those generational type of personalities. I think we should all be proud of her."
Montagliani is wearing several hats at the moment. He is president of CONCACAF, which covers North and Central America and the Caribbean, and as such is also a FIFA vice-president. As a result, he will have to give up the CSA presidency.
Rough road to Rio
It was an emotional Sinclair after Friday's match. She cried on the pitch and choked back tears at the post-game news conference.
The intensely private Canadian captain has endured plenty off the field in recent months, including the death of her father and her mother's illness.
"It's been a hard year for me," she said, her voice breaking. "I've put everything into this. Sacrificing things. I was not going to leave this tournament without a medal around my neck.
"I could not have done it without every single member of this team. There were days where I didn't think I would be here."
Sinclair made her debut with the national team 16 years ago.