On the hypothetical Mount Rushmore of global football, the stature of a standout athlete is crucial, transcending both male and female boundaries. One such stalwart who remains perched majestically among football's greatest, oblivious to gender, is the Canadian forward extraordinaire, Christine Sinclair.
At the age of 39, Sinclair proudly holds an astonishing 323 international appearances coupled with a remarkable tally of 190 goals, as she gears up for the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup. Should Canada harbour ambitions of a deep tournament run, it's highly probable Sinclair will be nearing the illustrious 200-goal milestone as the final whistle blows.
Sinclair was born on June 12, 1983, in Burnaby, British Columbia. With football coursing through her veins, she found herself immersed in an Under 7s squad at the tender age of four, propelled by her father, Bill, and uncles, who held the laurels of amateur championships.
Sinclair's nascent talent illuminated the pitch, and following a slew of victories in her junior years, she swiftly ascended the hierarchy of Canadian international football. Her first senior appearance came at the prodigious age of 16, and in the Algarve Cup tournament, Sinclair gave the world a tantalising preview of the record-shattering career that lay in wait. Despite being years shy of a driving permit, she bagged the top scorer title.
During her tenure at the University of Portland, Sinclair established herself as a standout player, achieving All-American status four times. Her extraordinary performance saw her being crowned as the 2001 NCAA Freshman of the Year. Furthermore, she scored the crucial golden goal in the 2002 NCAA Championships and claimed consecutive Hermann Trophies in 2004 and 2005, signifying her status as the Soccer Player of the Year.
In her concluding year, she broke the NCAA D1 record by scoring an impressive 39 goals in a single season. Additionally, she clinched her second NCAA title and was honoured with the Honda-Broderick Cup, which recognised her as the College Woman Athlete of the Year.
Sinclair's journey has been nothing short of extraordinary. Spanning more than two decades with Canada's international outfit, she's graced five FIFA Women's World Cups, four Olympic tournaments, and was shortlisted for the FIFA Women's World Player of the Year on an impressive seven occasions.
Her scoring prowess propelled her to the pinnacle of international football's scoring charts, for both men and women, amassing 190 goals in 320 appearances. The accolades of being the FIFA all-time scoring record holder and an Olympic gold medallist duly underscore her legendary status.
Many expected her to retire from international competition after winning gold at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The gold medal was thought of as the perfect capstone complete to an iconic career. However, she shocked the footballing world by signing a new contract with her club side, NWSL outfit Portland Thorns at the ripe old age of 38 years of age. Upon signing that contract she signalled her intention to continue representing her country as well.
“I’m still healthy and I still love playing. I wake up every day with the desire to go to training and help my team win. And with COVID having pushed the Olympics back a year, and a World Cup coming up sooner than usual afterwards, I just found it too hard to walk away”, Sinclair told FIFA.com at the time.
Her club career, much like her college and international career, has been record-breaking.
After playing for Gold Pride and Western New York Flash in the WPS league (the pre-cursor to the NWSL in the United States), she signed for the Portland Thorns and has been loyal ever since. For the Thorns, she's made 164 appearances for the side, scoring 66 goals on the way, and helping herself to 3 NWSL Championships, 2 NWSL Shields, 1 NWSL Challenge Cup and 1 NWSL Community Shield.
On top of her team achievements, she has also won Canada’s Player of the Year award a whopping 14 times, as well as being named Player of the Decade (2010-2019) by the Canadian FA too.
Heading into what could be her final top-tier tournament with her country, Sinclair and Canada will have the support of plenty of neutrals who will be looking for a fairy-tale ending to the career of the greatest striker of all time at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.