Sinclair honoured to join century club

GARETH WHEELER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:52 AM ET

"I still see myself as some kid from Burnaby that just loves playing soccer."

Christine Sinclair is much more than that.

Canada's 26-year old soccer phenom joined an elite class of players Saturday, scoring her 100th career international goal in a 3-0 victory over Poland in a tuneup for the 2010 Cyprus Women's Cup. Only nine other women internationally have reached the century mark.

"I was reading yesterday the names of the players who've reached that milestone," Sinclair said. "It's a real honour to be among them."

A hundred goals is a spectacular achievement, one that flew far too under the radar in this country.

It is rather ironic that Sinclair accomplished her feat halfway around the world on the tiny European island of Cyprus while the rest of the country was busy celebrating Canada's Olympic efforts in Vancouver -- her hometown and the home base for the Canadian women's team.

Sinclair is a true star in the world's most popular game. She's not only the best women's player Canada has produced, but is in the conversation of best women's player, period.

And that's something worth celebrating.

Sinclair doesn't particularly concern herself with personal accolades, but admits reaching the century mark was a relief.

"It was exciting," she said. "In my head I was just thanking God it was all over with. I was sitting on 99 goals for eight or nine months."

The humble Sinclair describes the milestone goal as anti-climatic. Actually, Sinclair was just as concerned about teammate Brittany Timko being hurt on the play.

"Half the team was cheering for my 100th, the other half concerned with Brit crumpled on the ground," she said.

The severity of Timko's injury is unknown and there is heartfelt concern in Sinclair's voice. This shouldn't surprise, as Sinclair always has been a consummate team player. Her genuine appreciation of her teammates' contributions to her success makes it all that much more endearing.

"You don't reach this milestone without your teammates," she said. "It shows the strides the team has made over the last 10 years. We couldn't play with the best in the world consistently back then. Now it's not the case. We're much stronger."

And Sinclair believes the team is in an even better position under Carolina Morace.

Morace became Canada's head coach a year ago and brought a more dynamic approach than her predecessor, Even Pellerud. Under Morace, a more skilled and composed tactical style is being deployed, enabling the team not only to stay in games with top teams, but also to compete and win.

As a player, Morace scored 105 international goals.

"Carolina's joked with me she's going to bench me when I get to 104 so I don't pass her record," Sinclair said.

Sinclair's 100th goal came in her 133rd career international game, breaking former teammate and assistant coach Andrea Neil's national record.

"I give Andrea a lot of credit helping me with what I've accomplished," Sinclair said. "She took me under her wing when I started and helped me through the trials of being a 16 year old travelling the world."

The five-time Canadian women's player of the year has one more grandiose goal in mind.

"I want to medal at either the World Cup or Olympics. We came close in 2003 (fourth place) but I think this new system under Carolina could work wonders for our team."

Team goals aside, it's not out of the realm of possibility Sinclair could pass Mia Hamm's record 158 goals to become the career international leading goal-scorer.

"I wouldn't say 158 is out of reach. But I'll need to stay healthy and need to improve individually and as a team," Sinclair said.

"But that's a lot of goals!"


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