Alex Bunbury can easily point to the moment he knew he fit in with some of the world's soccer elite.
"The greatest honour I got playing professionally in Portugal is that I was Alex, a football player for Maritimo," Bunbury said. "There was no need for a reference to me being a Canadian player.
"We are renowned for our hockey here in Canada, but once they saw my calibre of play, it was no longer that."
Last night Bunbury joined eight others as 2006 inductees into the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame and Museum in Vaughan.
The native of Guyana developed his skills in Montreal, where his family emigrated when Alex was a child. Bunbury then went on to become a fixture for Canada's national team, participating in 65 international matches.
In 1993, the talented striker moved to Portugal where he was a star scoring a club record 59 goals for CS Maritimo.
"I think there is a stigma for a lot of Canadian players," said Bunbury, who now lives in Minnesota. "I think the only way you can get rid of it is by going and playing the game at a high level and playing it with passion, which is what I did.
"This is a great honour. Very humbling. You never start out even thinking of being in a hall of fame some day."
Brian Robinson, David Stothard and Randy Samuel, a defender who represented Canada 82 times, joined Bunbury as players inducted at last night's ceremony.
In the builders category, Toronto Sun Corporate Sports editor George Gross went in alongside Sylvie Beliveau and John Buchanon, as well as the late Bob Bearpark and Fred Stambrook.
Victoria native Robinson represented Canada in two World Cup qualifiers and scored a memorable goal at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City in 1972.
"I felt that it was frustrating at times," Robinson said of representing Canada against world powers. "We were amateurs. We had families and jobs and we'd get together for two or three weeks then have to go play against countries that were together for much longer periods of time.
"People here in Canada would see (the results) and think we just lost again without understanding what we were up against."