Hastings announces soccer retirement
One of Canadian soccer's most loyal servants is calling it a day.
Defender Richard Hastings officially announced his retirement on Friday, bringing an end to a professional career that saw him play in Scotland, Austria and the Netherlands.
Hastings, a 33-year-old native of Prince George, B.C., most recently played for Hamilton Academical after spending the majority of his club career with fellow Scottish outfit Inverness Caledonian Thistle.
"I would like to thank the Canadian Soccer Association and particularly the coaches that I have played under for giving me the opportunity to represent Canada," Hastings said in a statement. "I have many highlights, memories and friendships to be thankful for throughout my international career.
CBC Sports commentator Jason de Vos, a former captain of the men's national team, played with Hastings and remembered him most for his versatility, his professionalism and his commitment on the field.
"He could play in a number of different positions and he was very reliable. Great work ethic, great attitude, never an ounce of trouble, just a very solid guy — that was Richard," de Vos told CBCSports.ca.
"He was a salt of the earth type of player who was well-liked by all of his teammates.
A member of Canada's youth team that competed at the 1997 FIFA U-20 Word Cup in Malaysia, Hastings celebrated his 21st birthday by making his debut for the Canadian senior side in a 1998 exhibition match against Macedonia in Toronto.
Hastings went on to earn 59 caps for Canada during his national team career and scored only one goal, but what a strike it was — the defender netted a famous golden goal against Mexico in the quarter-finals of the 2000 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
De Vos, who was on the field when Hastings scored, remembers the play with stunning clarity 11 years later.
"Martin Nash played a great ball over the top for Richard. His first touch wasn't great, it bounced up on him, and he took it in his stride and corralled it before flipping in past the Mexican goalkeeper," de Vos recalled.
Needless to say, that was the highlight moment of Hastings's international career for Canada.
"That goal summed up Richard," de Vos opined. "In extra time, after defending for 90 minutes and being tired, he was willing and able to run the length of the field for the opportunity to get a shot on net and score the winner — that summed up his career nicely."
After defeating Mexico 2-1, Canada went on to beat Colombia in the tournament final.
He also represented at the 2001 FIFA Confederations Cup.
Hastings's final international appearance for Canada came last May in an exhibition match against Venezuela. He retires ranked tied for ninth place in all-time appearances.
"He was a credit to Canada, a solid guy who got to the highest level of the game and who wore the Canadian jersey with pride," de Vos said.
Hastings will remain involved with soccer, serving as an instructor at The Other Foot Soccer School Canada in Nanaimo, B.C.